Awareness in June
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with the disease- those with the late-onset type- symptoms first appear in their mid 60’s. Early onset Alzheimer’s occurs between a person’s 30’s and mid 60’s and is very rare. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. There are different causes of dementia but dementia can easily be identified because of a set of common symptoms.
14 Symptoms of Dementia
1. Memory Loss- Dementia is the constant decline in mental ability. The first cognitive ability to be affected when symptoms of dementia start to manifest is memory. The forgetfulness may start small but as the illness progresses, they may begin to forget more important information.
2. Difficulty in Communicating- Dementia may severely affect the communicating ability of a person. A person who can usually keep up a cohesive conversation may start talking about several topics at once. They may also start to forget the words that they meant to use.
3. Struggles with reasoning- To be able to effectively reason out, a person should exercise logic. Logic is a hard skill to master even for a person who is not affected with dementia. When a person struggles with dementia, the reasoning abilities are compromised.
4. Has a hard time in handling complex tasks- A person who struggles with dementia can have a difficult time in dealing with even the smallest tasks. The pressure of the complexity of the task may also get to them. They may feel overwhelmed which can further affect their performance negatively.
5. Difficulty in Planning- Time, for example, is a common problem that most planners have to tackle. Because of this nature of planning, a person with dementia can have a difficult time in planning.
6. Loss of Coordination and Motor Function- Before a movement can be performed, the order to perform it comes from the brain. When the cognitive functions are diminished, the motor functions of a person are also affected. The same goes for coordination.
7. Constant Feeling of Confusion and Disorientation- A person becomes confused and disoriented when he or she cannot comprehend what is happening in their surroundings. Being able to understand what is happening around you is a basic survival function. This can overload the brain of a person with dementia and lead to confusion and disorientation because of the lack of ability to process the stimuli as quickly as the brain should.
8. Depression- Depression can be a latter effect of confusion and disorientation. It can come along with the feeling of frustration. Because of the reduction of the cognitive functions of a person that is brought about by dementia, a person suffering from this may not be able to cope with depression.
9. Anxiety- Anxiety, essentially, is having fears that do not have a rational basis. Irrational fears that are borne out of nothing can become the acceptable fears for a person with dementia.
10. Paranoia- Paranoia is the state of extreme suspicion or distrust of others. When a person is suffering from dementia, he or she has an impaired ability to properly recognize and understand the intention of others.
11. Agitation- Feeling discomfort and distress from not being able to understand a situation may cause agitation. When a person is agitated, he or she may react to confusion violently. This is when agitation may indicate the development of dementia. Not being able to deal with the situation in such a way that it is understood can trigger the agitation.
12. Hallucinations- This is the act of seeing or hearing something or somebody who is not present. Hallucinations can be caused by certain kinds of drugs. However, it becomes a symptom of dementia if it happens spontaneously. The hallucinations may add to the confusion that a person with dementia is already experiencing.
13. Inappropriate Behavior- If a person starts to display inappropriate behavior, it may be from the confusion that they are experiencing. By slowly losing the ability to properly comprehend and understand the current situation, a person may choose to behave in such a way that is not fit for the event. Inappropriate behaviors can include talking too loudly, hitting someone for no reason and being insensitive to how others feel in a situation.
14. Changes in Personality- Because of the nature of a person’s personality is developed, a drastic change in a person’s personality can e a symptom of dementia. This may be because dementia reduces the cognitive activity which can also lead to changes to how a person thinks and responds.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Using MRI technology, scientists can now identify early physical symptoms , like plaque buildup, that may differentiate mild cognitive impairment related to early onset Alzheimer’s from normal aging. This allows researchers to see brain dysfunction in patients before they lose tissue and nerve cells. The war against Alzheimer’s might be far from over but patients families finally have hope for the future. And for good reason. With all the emerging advancements coming forward, we now have more promising treatments than ever before. If you or someone you love is experiencing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, contact Freestone Medical Clinic for a appointment with one of our knowledgeable and caring providers.