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Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Described in 1906 by German Psychiatrist Alois Alzeheimer, it’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by plaques forming over parts of the brain. The significant symptom of AD is dementia or loss of memory.

You or your loved one picks up the receiver to make a phone call, but cannot remember the name or number of the person the call was intended to, or why the receiver was picked up in the first place.  Settling bills is becoming more and more confusing ,numbers just don’t mean anything. Now you begin to wonder, am I or my loved one loosing the mind? If you are in such a state it’s time to sit up and take notice, for these may be early signs of AD.

It usually begins around 65 years of age and  the risk doubles every 5 years after that. 5 million people in the United States are affected by AD

Some loss of memory is normal as we age, but it becomes sinister when these difficulties in loss of memory, difficulties in communicating and thinking starts to affect your daily activities.

The Alzeheimers Association has introduced a checklist for warning signs of AD.   They are 

                – memory loss

                – difficulty in performing familiar tasks

                – language problems like forgetting words

                – disoriented in place and time

                – poor or decreased judgement

                – problems with abstract thinking like forgetting what numbers are for

                - changes in mood and behaviour

                – loss of initiative

How do these symptoms differ from normal old age changes?

In old age a person is likely to remember parts of names a events later on, where as in AD they tend to forget names numbers and events especially recent events entirely and are unlikely to remember them later on. An older person will find day to day tasks difficult to perform with some loss of memeory regarding how it is done, but in AD people may forget procedures entirely, like forgetting hoe to cook for example a task they may have been doing daily for over forty odd years. In AD they may not know what use numbers are for and find it difficult to manage financial matters, they will have impaired communication, reasoning and understanding.  Repeating the same word over and over meaninglessly is also seen. Whereas some degree of communication and understanding is preserved in old age.  Mood swings for no apparent reason is seen, and if undetected and left alone they gradually withdraw into a world of their own no connection with the out side world, but in old age some response can be seen with outside contact.

Despite all these markers pointing towards AD, keep in mind that loss of memory is only a symptom which can also be part of many other diseases as well, like strokes  or parkinsons for instance.  So look out for these symptoms and seek medical treatment for an accurate early onset diagnosis.

Web sites – http//alzehimers.about.com

                   http//www.medicinenet.com

                   http//psychentral.com

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