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Why Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease is Important

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most feared diseases of old age. A diagnosis is often met with shock and feelings of disbelief, anger, fear, hopelessness, and grief. Those experiences extend to close family members as well. A diagnosis does not mean an end of life as you know it. An early diagnosis can provide families time to plan for living the best quality of life, seek therapies and explore care options.

For many people experiencing mild cognitive impairment, receiving an early Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis may be beneficial as it provides an explanation for the symptoms and signs they are experiencing and puts an end to their suspicions. Just knowing what’s happening to them can help people take control of their condition, live independently in their own home for longer, and maintain a good quality of life for themselves, their family, and caregivers. An early diagnosis means that individuals can make their wishes known to family members. They can plan ahead while they still have the capacity and participate in their own legal, financial, and care options, treatments and therapies.

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There are 10 common signs of dementia. If you notice that you or a loved one is experiencing any of these, don’t ignore them, take note of them and discuss your experience with your primary caregiver. 

1. Memory loss. Memory loss is one of the most common early indicators of Alzheimer’s. Forgetting new information, dates, events, or repeating the same question multiple times can be signs of the disease.

2. Changes in planning. Some individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty planning and problem-solving. This can negatively affect everyday tasks like following a recipe and managing monthly finances. 

3. Difficulty with familiar tasks. Having trouble accomplishing familiar tasks can be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s. These challenges may include difficulty remembering the directions to the grocery store or the rules to a frequently played game. 

4. Confusion with time or place. People with Alzheimer’s can experience confusion with time or place. They may lose track of days or forget how they arrived at a location.

5. Change in vision. Worsening eyesight is an early mark of Alzheimer’s disease. A change in vision can also lead to balance problems, identifying color, and difficulty reading and driving. 

6. Trouble in conversation. Difficulty conversing is a recognizable sign of Alzheimer’s. Individuals might struggle to follow or join a conversation. They also might have trouble retrieving certain words and mix up the names of household objects.  

7. Misplacing things. People with Alzheimer’s may misplace things in abnormal places and forget how to retrieve them. As a result, they may become suspicious and accuse others of taking their possessions. 

8. Decreased judgment. Decreased judgment may arise as a result of Alzheimer’s. Individuals could exhibit poor decision-making skills when handling money or practicing personal hygiene.

 

An early diagnosis can provide families time to plan for living the best quality of life, seek therapies and explore care options.

 

9. Social withdrawal. People with Alzheimer’s may experience a decreased interest in socializing. Withdrawal from work, home life, and hobbies can be common indications of the disease. 

10. Changes in mood. Alzheimer’s can alter one’s mood and personality. Individuals may become confused, anxious, or depressed, even in comforting places like their own home. 

Many factors and conditions can cause memory loss or affect your ability to focus, so it’s important to meet with your doctor and have a full medical evaluation. If the symptoms are not caused by Alzheimer’s or other dementia, it could be a treatable condition. If the diagnosis is dementia, there are many benefits to access support services and to adopt lifestyle changes and therapies that can impact the condition. 

 

Written by, Wendy Bronfin on Oct. 19, 2020
Wendy Bronfin

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