Alzheimer’s Disease is a disease Louisianans know all too well. In 2017, it was the 6th leading cause of death in Louisiana, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But all hope is not lost. Because Alzheimer’s Disease progresses over time, an early diagnosis can help to lessen the impact of the disease and control symptoms early on.
How to spot the warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
While mild dementia may be part of the aging process, Alzheimer’s Disease is not considered part of the aging process. Understanding the warning signs can help someone who may be suffering from advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Disruption of daily activities due to memory loss
- Inability to follow a plan or handle familiar tasks, like following a recipe when cooking, balancing a checkbook, keeping track and paying monthly bills, taking medications as prescribed, or driving to a known location
- Losing track of time and dates
- Development of vision problems, leading to balance issues or a lack of judgment in the distance causing difficulties when driving or even walking
- Repeating statements or questions when discussing an issue or displaying obvious difficulties with vocabulary by either using the wrong word or being unable to find a word to use
- Misplacing things or putting items in unusual places
- A decrease in judgment and making poor decisions
- A sudden withdrawal from social activities or hobbies that were once enjoyed
- Obvious mood and personality changes, including signs of depression, anxiety and confusion
Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease has come a long way
Knowing the early warning signs can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia so those suffering can continue living as normal of a life as possible for as long as possible.
With dementia, doctors can do a cognitive test and neurological test to evaluate the thinking process, memory, movement, and reflexes. If a doctor suspects that the issue is more advanced and that it is Alzheimer’s Disease, more comprehensive testing may be done such as a CT scan or MRI of the brain. These tests can help reveal signs that what is occurring is dementia due to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Blood test can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease before symptoms appear
When it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease, there’s good news on advancements in diagnosing it, as researchers now believe they have developed an accurate blood test that can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease long before any symptoms appear.
Also, recently it was reported that the Federal Drug Administration approved a new medication that slows the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. These are two significant medical breakthroughs. However, one of the most important ways to get ahead of this disease is to know the symptoms and alert your doctor early.
Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia impact more than the patient
Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia not only impact the patient. Family, friends, and caregivers are significantly impacted by a loved one’s Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
There are many resources available to help patients and families. Those dealing with cognitive issues are encouraged to access those resources. Information can be very helpful in coping with the challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Early detection equals better quality of life
Knowing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease and alerting your doctor is key in addressing problems early. Early diagnosis and treatment may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia and help an individual maintain the best possible quality of life.
About Dr. Bertha Daniels
Dr. Bertha Daniels is a Primary Care physician with West Jefferson Medical Center. She works at the Primary Care office in Gretna on the Westbank.