According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia, “a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behavior and emotion.”
Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia account for nine out of ten cases of dementia. Symptoms may include:
- Memory loss
- Personality and mood changes
- Difficulty in performing daily, routine tasks
- Difficulty in using words or comprehending others
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, we may be able to improve outcomes by making earlier diagnosis and providing patients and their families with better support and information.
Recognize Alzheimer’s Warning Signs
This September, in recognition of World Alzheimer’s Month, internal medicine doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group are encouraging Nashvillians to learn the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s (via Alzheimer’s Association).
- Memory loss disrupting daily life. It’s not uncommon to forget names or appointments as you age, but routinely forgetting information or asking for the same information on a repeat basis could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
- Difficulty in planning or problem-solving. Occasional errors are normal at any age, of course. But individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may exhibit greater difficulty concentrating on problems. Working through challenges could take longer than in the past.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Driving, budgeting, or remember rules to a game could be challenging for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
- Time/place confusion. Not understanding where you are or how you got there could be a sign of dementia.
- Difficulty judging distance or color/contrast. Difficulty judging spatial relationships can make tasks like driving risky and difficult.
- Losing words (speaking or writing). Stopping mid-sentence or using odd word choice can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
- Misplacing items. It’s not uncommon for individuals with Alzheimer’s to place items in unusual spots. In some cases, this can lead to the individual accusing others of stealing.
- Poor judgement. Affected individuals may lose their ability to exercise good judgement or make sound decisions.
- Withdrawal from work or social life. From time to time, we all need a break from the demands of work, family, and friends. But for individuals with Alzheimer’s, the step back may be more pronounced and longer lasting.
- Mood and personality changes. Many patients with Alzheimer’s may exhibit confusion, suspicion, depression or other new behaviors.