What Are The Benefits Of An Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
Early, accurate diagnosis is beneficial for several reasons. Beginning treatment early in the disease process may help preserve daily functioning for some time, even though the underlying Alzheimers process cannot be stopped or reversed.
Having an early diagnosis helps people with Alzheimers and their families:
Get Into A Good Routine
If possible, try and make bedtime and wake-up time the same everyday. Try and establish a nightime and morning routine as this will help signal to them what time of day it is. Things that can encourage better sleeping habits include a bath, playing music, brushing teeth, a hot milky drink or even the scent of lavender on a pillow from a scented spray.
A scented pillow spray can help overcome restlessness or trouble drifting off. The smell of the lavender blend naturally encourages sleep. This is particularly helpful to those in the later stages of dementia when it is common for patients to respond to the sense of smell.
What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Now that we’ve discussed the scientific definitions, let’s turn to the warning signs. According to the experts at the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 major early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s to watch out for, and they are as follows:
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Get The Lighting Right
To aid a more restful nights sleep the bedroom should be as comfortable as possible. Using blackout curtains are a good idea during night-time to eliminate outside disturbances. Research suggests that light therapy can reduce restlessness and confusion for people with dementia. Should you wish to consider light therapy, it has been proven that violet coloured light promotes drowsiness and a full-spectrum fluorescent light used for the first two hours of the day can be settling. Light therapy that follows a regular pattern can also help with disturbed body clocks.
Safety – if night wandering is a problem, or frequent visits to the loo, you will need to consider some sort of low light to prevent your parent falling in the dark. You may want to invest in a motion sensor night light. A motion sensor light automatically turns on when motion is detected within three metres. It then turns off after 30 seconds of no activity. This means that people with dementia can use the bathroom in the night or get out of bed with less risk of falling. The light is gentle and warm in order to not interrupt sleep.
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What Happens If A Doctor Thinks It’s Alzheimer’s Disease
If a primary care doctor suspects mild cognitive impairment or possible Alzheimers, he or she may refer the patient to a specialist who can provide a detailed diagnosis or further assessment. Specialists include:
- Geriatricians, who manage health care in older adults and know how the body changes as it ages and whether symptoms indicate a serious problem
- Geriatric psychiatrists, who specialize in the mental and emotional problems of older adults and can assess memory and thinking problems
- Neurologists, who specialize in abnormalities of the brain and central nervous system and can conduct and review brain scans
- Neuropsychologists, who can conduct tests of memory and thinking
Memory clinics and centers, including Alzheimers Disease Research Centers, offer teams of specialists who work together to diagnose the problem. Tests often are done at the clinic or center, which can speed up diagnosis.
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What Is Alzheimers Disease
- Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia.
- It is a progressive disease beginning with mild memory loss and possibly leading to loss of the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment.
- Alzheimers disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
- It can seriously affect a persons ability to carry out daily activities.
How Do People Know They Have It
The first sign of Alzheimer disease is an ongoing pattern of forgetting things. This starts to affect a person’s daily life. He or she may forget where the grocery store is or the names of family and friends. This stage may last for some time or get worse quickly, causing more severe memory loss and forgetfulness.
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You Keep Getting Lost
The confusion associated with dementia can cause you to feel lost more often, possibly while on your way somewhere new. But it can even happen when heading somewhere youve been dozens of times.For example, as Dr. Schreiber says, you may find that you are using your GPS to go to places that you knew how to get to previously.
Of course, we all get turned around on occasion, so you wont want to assume you have dementia just because you get lost while out driving or walking. And the same is true if youve always been bad with directions, or simply prefer sticking to a beaten path.
If you develop a new sense of disorientation, however, or find yourself getting lost on familiar roads, let a doctor know.
Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented
As the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not clear, there’s no known way to prevent the condition.
But there are things you can do that may reduce your risk or delay the onset of dementia, such as:
- staying physically fit and mentally active
These measures have other health benefits, such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving your overall mental health.
Read more about preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
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Signs That Someone With Dementia Should Stop Driving
People with very mild dementia may be able to drive safely. However, its important to monitor the individual for signs they should stop driving.
Signs that someone with dementia should stop driving include:
- New, unexplained dents and scratches on the vehicle
- Getting lost while driving for simple errands
- An unexpected increase in traffic tickets, warnings, citations, or violations
When Seniors With Dementia Wont Eat
What can you do when your older adult loses interest in eating? For seniors with Alzheimers or dementia, this could be caused by a variety of factors, including loss of taste or smell, distractions, too many food choices, or having trouble with utensils.
Of course, youre trying to make sure they eat enough to maintain their health. This can make mealtime frustrating or unpleasant for both your older adult and you.
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Decreased Or Poor Judgement
This is different to: making a bad decision once in a while.
Changes in decision-making or judgement might include dealing with money or paying less attention to keeping clean and groomed. This can be one of the more obvious parts of your observation list for early signs of dementia.
Look out for signs that your parent might not be looking after themselves the way they used to. They may forget to wash regularly, wear the same clothes continuously throughout the week, forget to brush their teeth, forget to brush their hair, shave or to visit the toilet.
Its vital to make sure your parent is keeping up with any regular appointments they may have. Make sure theyre keeping up with their health and hygiene routines with our guide to keeping healthy.
Recognising When Someone Is Reaching The End Of Their Life
Read about some of the signs that a person with dementia is nearing their death, and how you can support yourself as a carer, friend or relative.
It is important to know when a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life because it can help in giving them the right care. However it can be difficult to know when this time is.
This uncertainty can have a big impact on how the persons family feel, and may also affect how they feel themselves.
There are symptoms in the later stages of dementia that can suggest the person is reaching the final stage of their illness. These include:
- bowel and bladder incontinence,
- being unable to walk or stand, problems sitting up and controlling the head, and becoming bed-bound.
It is likely that a person with dementia is nearing the end of their life if they have these symptoms, along with other problems such as frailty, infections that keep coming back, and pressure ulcers .
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People With Moderate To Severe Alzheimers Disease Should Never Drive
According to the National Institute on Aging, people with moderate to severe Alzheimers disease should never get behind the wheel.
People with very mild Alzheimers may be able to drive safely in certain conditions.
However, as dementia gets worse, it can quickly impact driving. Dementia makes your memory and decision-making skills worse over time. If you have dementia, you may not be able to react to an emergency as quickly. You could hurt yourself, passengers, or others on the road.
Genes And Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused when blood flow to the brain is reduced, damaging nerve cells. This can happen as a result of a stroke or damage to blood vessels deep in the brain. The majority of cases of vascular dementia are not caused by faulty genes.
We may carry genes that affect our risk of stroke, heart disease or other diseases that may contribute to vascular dementia. However, lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, drinking alcohol over the recommended limits, and an unbalanced diet can also affect our risk.
There are rare genetic disorders that can cause vascular dementia by damaging blood vessels in the brain. One is called CADASIL and can be passed down through families. CADASIL only affects around 1,000 people in the UK.
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How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Treated
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer’s live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it’s easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.
Read more about treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the early stages the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very subtle. However, it often begins with lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects.
Other symptoms may include:
- Persistent and frequent memory difficulties, especially of recent events
- Vagueness in everyday conversation
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
Symptoms vary and the disease progresses at a different pace according to the individual and the areas of the brain affected. A person’s abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the one day, becoming worse in times of stress, fatigue or ill-health.
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What Role Do Genes Play In Late
In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimers research uncovered a link between damaged brain tissue and memory loss. Since then, scientists have learned a lot more about the disease named after him. We now know that early-onset Alzheimers is usually based on genetics and can be more readily inherited, while you are less likely to inherit late-onset Alzheimers.
There is no single gene mutation that causes late-onset Alzheimers. The late-onset condition seems to be caused by multiple genes. The most problematic and best-known gene is called ApoE and has been clinically linked with late-onset Alzheimers.
To complicate matters further, there are three versions of the ApoE gene: ApoE2, ApoE3 and ApoE4. Out of this alphabet soup, the ApoE4 gene has been linked with an increased risk of acquiring Alzheimers.
Having the ApoE gene doesnt mean you will definitely develop the disease, but it does increase your risk. On the flip side, some people without the ApoE gene can still develop Alzheimers as well.
There are also plenty of non-genetic risk factors that can contribute to late-onset Alzheimers. In other words, inherited genes arent the only cause of Alzheimers. What researchers call epigenetic events can impact your risk for Alzheimer’s because they may result in changes in genes. They can be negatively or positively attributed to factors such as diet, exercise, smoking, environmental hazards, diabetes and other diseases.
The Effects Of Being Diagnosed At A Young Age
The personal and social consequences of young onset dementia can be much different than those experienced by people diagnosed with dementia later in life.
People living with young onset dementia are often still working at the time of diagnosis, are physically fit, and may have dependent children or parents at home. They may have major financial commitments, like a mortgage or student loan, that they are looking to pay off.
The diagnosis of dementia, and the changes it will bring, can only increase the stress of handling these responsibilities. With dementia now in the mix, it’s natural for a younger person just diagnosed with dementia to think, “What’s next!?” and worry about how they can meet handling their responsibilities.
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Early Signs Of Dementia Checklist
Signs of early onset dementia usually affect people in their 50s and early 60s. But is it really a dementia sign or is it just a something we do as we get older?
|Signs of Dementia/Alzheimers:|
|Making a bad decision once in a while|
|Inability to manage a budget||Missing a monthly payment|
|Losing track of the date or the season||Forgetting what day it is and remembering later|
|Difficulty having a conversation||Sometimes forgetting which word to use|
|Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them||Losing things from time to time|
As dementia is a progressive neurological disorder, there are many stages and dementia symptoms. The changes are gradual, and this may give your parent time to receive an early diagnosis and to slow down or prevent the disease from progressing.
Fortunately, the first signs of dementia can be spotted before the symptoms make a big impact on day-to-day living and overall quality of life. For more information on the various stages of dementia, download our free and comprehensive dementia guide.
Sometimes dementia diagnosis can be difficult as there is no one simple test to carry out and early symptoms can be similar to the age-related changes listed above. Here are 10 early signs of Dementia to look out for.
Early Diagnosis Is Worth The Risk Of Offending A Loved One
The diagnosis of Alzheimers disease typically requires a doctors assessment of the patients history, a physical exam, a mental status test, and additional tests, such as blood and imaging tests. Detection of the accumulation of an abnormal protein called beta-amyloid, and the development of neurofibrillary tangles both of which are known to characterize Alzheimers is possible on samples of cerebrospinal fluid or using an imaging test called a positron emission tomography scan.
However, some of the early signs of Alzheimers are undetectable by standard diagnostic methods. Thus, digital biomarkers of the disease may facilitate early diagnosis, and an early diagnosis means patients can gain earlier access to treatment.
Altoidas non-invasive device uses AI to look at nearly 800 digital biomarkers that chart to 13 neurocognitive domains from memory to cognitive processing speed and fine motor coordination often affected in Alzheimers. Measuring and monitoring neurocognitive function could help to diagnose and distinguish Alzheimers from other disorders, including mild cognitive impairment.
The company expects to unlock important insights about the development of the disease.
The insights obtained will not only contribute to supporting dementia patients, but also to informing care for those concerned about developing dementia, said Keisuke Naito, a vice president and chief ecosystem officer at Eisai.
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Causes Of Alzheimers Disease
Scientists dont yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimers, a genetic mutation is usually the cause. Late-onset Alzheimers arises from a complex series of brain changes that occur over decades. The causes probably include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any one of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimers may differ from person to person.
Could I Use Sleeping Tablets For A Limited Time Just To Help The Person I Care For With Dementia Get Back Into A Routine Of Sleeping Throughout The Night
However tempting this may be, the use of sleeping pills for dementia patients can be just too dangerous as they are at risk of falling. The morning hangover effect that sleeping medication leaves a person with can exacerbate the dementia patient’s symptoms of confusion, anger and irritability. Try promoting better sleep strategies and sleep aids for dementia instead. If the person with dementia constantly wakes and gets up, and is at high risk of falling, then a doctor may decide that sleeping pills for a dementia patient can be used for short period of time. Always talk to a GP first as they are used to being asked how to get dementia patients to sleep at night.
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