Alzheimer’s disease: 10 Warning Signs to Look Out For

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness, as it not only affects the patients but also their dear ones. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.

And eventually even the ability to carry out the simple tasks of everyday living. No cure exists for this disease, which worsens as it progress and ultimately results in death.

Who are Vulnerable?

• Most often, the disease is diagnosed in people aged above 65 years.
• Sometimes it can occur much earlier.

Alzheimer’s Causes:

The exact cause is not known. Every brain cell or neuron is made of microtubules – that transport nutrients to the nerve fibers. A protein known as Tau stabilizes these microtubules.

In patients of Alzheimer’s this protein undergoes chemical changes and pairs up with other threads creating neurofibrillary tangles affecting the transport system and causing cell death.

Is Alzheimer’s Hereditary?

Though some genes have been identified that code the proteins in the plaques of patients’ brains, it is not a definite indicator to say who will or will not get the disease.

If there are many relatives in the family with Alzheimer’s disease, then chances of AD cases in the family are higher than others.

Alzheimer's disease

10 Warning Signs to Look Out For:

1. Memory Loss and Confusion: It is normal to forget car keys at times someone’s birthday but a habitual forgetfulness and confusion in doing simple tasks such as pouring tea in a glass are causes for concern.

2. Difficulty in Performing Familiar Tasks: An occasional mistake in accounts or forgetting to add salt while cooking is normal. But people with Alzheimer’s have trouble doing everyday activities such as paying bills or cooking meals.

They might repeatedly ask the same questions, lose things or put them in odd places. Even simple activities seem confusing and they become worried or angry.

3. Language Problems: Patients develop difficulty in holding conversations – use completely different or unrelated words in sentences or sometimes stop speaking in the middle of a sentence, as they don’t know how to complete it.

4. Disorientation of Time and Place: Patients get confused suddenly and do not know where they are and how they got there.

5. Poor Judgment: Most patients have trouble in judging distances and handling money matters.

6. Not Able to Make Plans: Most of them have difficulty in perception and planning. Also, they might have difficulty in concentrating and take much longer to do tasks they did quickly before.

7. Misplacing Objects: Patients may often put objects in odd places and are unable to recall where they had kept them. If a person is constantly misplacing keys, wallets etc, then he or she should seek medical aid immediately.

8. Mood Swings and Changes in Personality: Patients can become suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They can get upset easily, especially when they are taken out of their comfort zone.

9. Loss of Initiative: Patients may remove themselves from social activities or work projects. They may face problems such as keeping up with their favorite sports team.

10. Trouble Understanding Visual Images: They may pass by a mirror and think another person is in the room, without recognizing their own reflection.

When a close relative or the person himself first realizes that something is wrong, the usual reaction of others is to put the blame on age, stress, smoking, sugar levels, blood pressure or alcohol. It is important to see a neurologist soon to confirm if there is a problem.

Diagnosis:
• CT scan or MRI of brain
• Blood tests for thyroid and B12 levels
• EEG and PET scan etc.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, Alzheimer’s disease has been divided into:

• Preclinical Stage: when person does not have symptoms but brain changes have already started
• Mild cognitive impairment
• Moderate cognitive impairment
• Severe cognitive impairment.

Also Read: Age-Related Eye Diseases and Common Vision Problems

Alzheimer’s disease Treatment:

Currently available treatment options only help with the symptoms. There are no treatments that can stop or reverse the disease. The patient needs a lot of support from family members and caregivers who need to be trained to handle them.

It is important to remember that these patients do not like change. It causes more confusion for them to be in unfamiliar places with new people or in a crowd.

Tips for Patients:
• Regular exercise is a must.
• Maintain a healthy diet – include lots of fruits and vegetables.
• Take your medicines on time.
• Engage in stimulation techniques for brain – brain teasers, puzzles.
• Plan ahead

Note: Medication is inadequate to make significant difference but compassion, care and love goes a long way in making this difficult journey a little more tolerable.

SOURCE: B-Positive Health Magazine

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