Knowing the difference between aging and Alzheimer’s disease

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Although Alzheimer’s can develop in people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, it is most common in people age 65 and older. After age 65, according to the association, a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years. Therefore, it is important for older people to understand their risk of the disease and how to recognize warning signs.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that is the most common form of dementia. It causes progressive memory loss, impaired thoughts and disorientation, and personality and mood changes. In the brain, the disease causes cells to not function and die off.  As a result, there is irreversible brain damage that impact daily living activities. There is no known cause for Alzheimer’s and no cure. However, early diagnosis and medical intervention can slow Alzheimer’s dementia symptoms and improve quality of life.

What are the warning signs?

As people age, the brain becomes less agile and it is normal to have occasional memory problems. Alzheimer’s disease has several stages and levels of symptoms, however; memory loss issues are typically the preliminary signs of a cognitive impairment problem. But, how can people differentiate between what are normal memory problems related to aging and more serious signs of the development of Alzheimer’s?

Early warning signs of serious memory problems

  • Poor judgment leading to bad decisions much of the time
  • Trouble handling money and paying monthly bills
  • Losing track of the date or time of the year
  • Repeating questions or information
  • Trouble following along with conversations
  • Often misplacing items and losing them
  • Wandering and getting lost

Alzheimer’s can also impact non-memory abilities such as finding words, vision, and reasoning and judgement. For example, a person in the early stages of the disease may take longer to complete normal daily tasks because their ability to reason has diminished. Personality and mood changes such as increased anxiety and/or aggression can also be early Alzheimer’s signs.

What can you do?

If you are having early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, contact your doctor and schedule an appointment. Receiving an early diagnosis for the disease opens up more opportunities for symptom treatment options. It’s also beneficial for making plans about future care and personal wishes. After getting a diagnosis, it is important to learn more about the disease and make arrangements for regular medical care that includes specialized treatment for memory disorders. As the disease progresses, help may need to be arranged to assist with daily living activities. To learn more about how our facility can help residents with Alzheimer’s, schedule an appointment today.

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