Gradual memory loss is common in older adults. But how can you know if you or a loved one is struggling with something more that just the normal aging process?
Identifying the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a critical step in beginning treatment for your loved one and establishing the necessary support services to help your family cope with the effects of this disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Many older adults notice a gradual decline in their memory as they age, but Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. It is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia and nearly two-thirds of those suffering from AD are women.
What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
In a healthy brain, tens of billions of neurons carry electrical and chemical messages throughout the brain and body. This vital communication network is responsible for storing and accessing memory, enabling speech, signaling hormones, and controlling muscles – just to name a few critical functions. Alzheimer’s Disease interrupts the connection between neurons, thereby shutting down communication between the brain’s command center and the bodily functions it once controlled.
Early Signs of AD
Although Alzheimer’s impacts everyone differently, the disease does show some early signs and symptoms. These include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty with problem solving, such as calculating a restaurant tip or remembering how to pay a bill
- Losing track of time or location
- Losing track of personal items and/or becoming increasingly more disorganized
- Forgetting how to complete familiar tasks
- Poor decision-making or inappropriate behavior/outbursts
- Mood swings
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Vision problems such as an inability to identify color, shape, or judge distance
What should I do if I’m concerned someone I know may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s?
If you or someone you love is showing possible early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, schedule an appointment with a primary care physician to discuss your concerns. Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
At familyfirst Family Medical Practice offers patients of all ages a full range of services in both women’s and men’s health and wellness. We tailor our treatment to your health and family history. Contact us today to schedule you or your loved one’s consultation.