As our parents age things seem to deteriorate. Their eye sight starts to go, their hearing diminishes and their cognition fades. And there comes a time where mom’s forgetfulness may be a more of an issue than you once realized. June is national Alzheimer’s awareness month, and today we will cover what Alzheimer’s disease is, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and the signs and symptoms that your loved one may have Alzheimer’s dementia.
First off, let’s define Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a general term for memory loss and decrease in mental capabilities. It is the most common form of dementia and makes up around 70% of all dementia occurances. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning ones cognition severely worsens as the disease advances and eventually the person becomes introverted and unable to function in a social setting. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes dementia, however, there is usually some sort of genetic component, typically coupled with environmental and lifestyle factors. Sadly, there is no cure of Alzheimer’s dementia at this present time, however, we will discuss some ways to prevent it.
Second, here are some of the signs and symptoms to help you identify if your loved one may be struggling with memory loss or may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Have you noticed that they frequently repeat themselves? Maybe they constantly ask you the same questions about the kids. Or maybe they’ve stopped recognizing family members or are getting lost going to and from once familiar places. Maybe they’re having trouble in crowds. Family dinners were once a breeze but now you may notice them getting really overwhelmed with all of the noise and commotion. These may be some of the early signs that your seniors memory is going. You may also notice mood swings, wandering, changes in their sleeping habits or even delusions of things you know aren’t real.
Third, the only definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is to evaluate the brain after death. However, doctors can do a series of cognitive and behavioral tests to determine if your loved one has Alzheimer’s. They may also want to do other diagnostic tests to be sure there isn’t another underlying cause of the change in their behavior, such as a urinary tract infection. Simple things like this can cause major changes in behavior.
Fourth, there are several things one can do to combat the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia. Getting plenty of sleep, keeping stress under control, having an active social life, keeping your mind sharp, getting exercise and eating a balanced diet can all help delay the effects and onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you think your loved one may be suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia you should contact their doctor and set up an appointment for an evaluation. Prevention is key.
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