Do Not Ignore Early Signs Of Dementia
The signs and symptoms of dementia can be subtle. They dont appear as they do in a person with a more advanced stage of the disease. Sometimes, even a healthcare provider might miss the opportunity to pursue an early diagnosis because theyre unfamiliar with how the stages progress.
When quizzing a patient during an assessment, a doctor who doesnt specialize in cognitive health and brain function might ask questions a person in the later stages of the disease wont have the ability to answer correctly. However, a person with early-onset dementia can answer simple questions, which may result in a misdiagnosis.
A critical early diagnosis might also be missed when the person experiencing symptoms, or their loved ones, choose to ignore the signs. People with early-onset Alzheimers can often recognize when something isnt right. The signs are there, but theyre either ignored or denied outright.
The Importance Of An Early Diagnosis
Historically, a diagnosis of AD has been one of exclusion, and one only made in the latter stages of disease however, the disease process can take years to play out, exacting a significant toll on the patient, caregiver, and healthcare system along the way .
To mitigate this burden, the early and accurate detection of AD-associated symptoms in clinical practice represents a critically needed but challenging advancement in AD care . Usually, a patient with early signs/symptoms of AD will initially present in a primary care setting . For some patients, minor changes in cognition and/or behavior may be detected during a routine wellness visit or an appointment to discuss other comorbidities . As the PCP is often the first to observe a patients initial symptomatology, it is vital they recognize the early signs and symptoms, and understand how to use the most appropriate assessment tools designed to detect these early clinical effects of the disease.
Withdrawal From Work Or Social Activities
At times everyone can become tired of housework, business activities, or social obligations. However a person with dementia may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or appearing to lose interest in hobbies.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are concerned about a friend or relative, visit your doctor and discuss your concerns.
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How Can You Reduce The Risk Of Dementia
Although some prominent risk factors, such as advanced age, cannot be modified, others are subject to change, and according to Alzheimers Research UK, there are a number of lifestyle risk factors, many of which are similar to those of cardiovascular disease. These include smoking, uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, and lack of education.
This is in addition to other factors for which the evidence is still weak, including obesity, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, sports-related head injuries and depression..
Air pollution has also been central to several studies on cognitive impairment and dementia risk, and there is evidence that small air pollution particles can enter the brain, but at this time it cannot be determined whether they play a role in dementia..
The Role Of Primary Care In The Early Detection Of Ad
The insidious and variable emergence of symptoms associated with AD and other dementias can make recognition extremely challenging, particularly in a primary care setting . Clinicians often have limited time with patients, so it is vital that they are able to quickly and accurately recognize the early signs and symptoms associated with AD , and training for nurses, NPs, and PAs who may have more time to observe patients should provide substantial benefits. Although extremely variable, initial symptoms may include short-term memory loss or psychological concerns, including depressive symptoms and a loss of purpose .
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What Happens After A Diagnosis Of Younger Onset Dementia
A diagnosis of younger onset dementia can come as a shock. The person affected, and their family and friends may all feel angry or sad. They might not believe it. There can be a huge sense of loss. These feelings are normal.
But help and support is available, and it is better to get it earlier than later.
Younger people with dementia need to think about several issues.
Decline In Physical Hygiene
Even if someone was strict about keeping up with good hygiene before, that may change once they begin to showcase signs of Alzheimer’s. Due to the changes in cognitive function that occur with this disease, things like taking baths or showers, changing clothes, and flossing become more difficult, says the Alzheimer’s Association. And for more ways to improve your personal well-being, check out the 100 Easy Ways to Be a Much Healthier Person, According to Science.
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Simple Tasks Become Complicated
A person with early-onset dementia might take a long way home because they momentarily forgot the way. They might fail to remember a recipe theyve made by memory a thousand times, or forget how to play a simple card game.
Keeping up with a storyline might be difficult. Little things might have become confusing, and foggy moments could occur.
Data Collection And Analysis
Assessment of methodological quality
The qualities of included studies were assessed using the QUADAS-2 tool, a methodological quality assessment tool used to assess diagnostic accuracy studies and PRISMA checklist. The tool consists of 14 items that rates the risk of bias, source of variations , with each item rated as yes, no or unclear, tailored under four domains that includes: participants selection index test , reference standard and flow and timing .
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Difficulty Completing Normal Tasks
A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.
Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
Memory Loss That Impedes Daily Activities
The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimers disease is often memory loss. A person may start forgetting messages or recent events in a way that is unusual for them. They may repeat questions, having forgotten either the answer or the fact that they already asked.
It is not uncommon for people to forget things as they get older, but with early onset Alzheimers disease, this happens earlier in life, occurs more often, and seems out of character.
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How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, or if you or a loved one is experiencing increased memory loss. They may refer you to a doctor who specializes in AD.
Theyll conduct a medical exam and a neurological exam to aid in the diagnosis. They may also choose to complete an imaging test of your brain. They can only make a diagnosis after the medical evaluation is completed.
Theres no cure for AD at this time. The symptoms of AD can sometimes be treated with medications meant to help improve memory loss or decrease sleeping difficulties.
Research is still being done on possible alternative treatments.
Mood Or Personality Changes
Someone with Alzheimers disease may start to experience a low mood. They may feel irritable, confused, anxious, or depressed. They may also lose interest in things they used to enjoy.
They may become frustrated with their symptoms or feel unable to understand the changes taking place. This may present as aggression or irritability toward others.
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Common Causes Of Dementia
Medical intervention for dementia or dementia-like symptoms depends on the source of the problem. Although its widely believed that such conditions solely affect the elderly, thats inaccurate.
People of any age can experience these symptoms because the causes are related to a variety of health conditionsfrom traumatic brain injury to Alzheimers disease.
Physical Changes To Expect
Which symptoms you have and when they appear are different for everyone.
Some people have physical problems before serious memory loss.
In one study, people who walked slowly and had poor balance were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the following 6 years.
Some of the changes you might experience are:
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Risk Factors To Consider
Although AD isnt an expected part of advancing age, youre at increased risk as you get older. More than 32 percent of people over age 85 have Alzheimers.
You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.
The exact cause of early onset AD hasnt been fully determined. Many researchers believe that this disease develops as the result of multiple factors rather than one specific cause.
Researchers have discovered rare genes that may directly cause or contribute to AD. These genes may be carried from one generation to the next within a family. Carrying this gene can result in adults younger than age 65 developing symptoms much earlier than expected.
Taking Longer To Complete Basic Tasks
As most people get older, they tend to slow down a little bit, both physically and mentally. However, if you’re losing the ability to follow plans and having trouble concentrating, meaning things take considerably longer than they used to, that could be an indication an Alzheimer’s diagnosis isn’t far off.
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Statistics Of Dementia In Men
Approximately 14 percent of Americans 71 years and older have some form of dementia, with the prevalence being slightly higher in women. Sixteen percent of women 71 years and older suffer from dementia, compared to only 11 percent of men. These results were found during the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study .
Researchers and scientist are still unclear why this gender difference exists, but theorize that the longer life expectancies of women may play a factor. Other possible reasons may be hormonal differences between men and women, genetic differences , and even historical differences in education, as in the past, educated women were a rarity and it is known that low education is a risk factor for the development of Alzheimers.
How To Spot Early Indicators That Your Loved One May Have Alzheimers Or Dementia
by Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, Updated September 27, 2021
En español | From age 50 on, its not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things.
But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening to a loved ones brain.
Dementia isnt actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.
More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the “2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report fromthe Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 percent to 70 percent of cases, but a range of brain illnesses can lead to the condition .
Diseases that cause dementia
These conditions are the leading causes of dementia. Many patients have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types, such as Alzheimers and vascular dementia.
Lewy body dementia. Abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, affect brain chemistry and lead to problems with behavior, mood, movement and thinking.
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Impact Of A Diagnosis
A major report on the benefits of early diagnosis shows that a diagnosis is often greeted with severe shock, with feelings of disbelief, anger, loss and grief . However, a diagnosis is often regarded by those with dementia and family members as a positive event, particularly when the initial shock has worn off. Critically, the response to a diagnosis depends on how a person with dementia is told about it and the level of support that is available to them and their families after diagnosis.
It is therefore important for the person with dementia and their family to receive the dementia diagnosis in a positive way, with time made available to answer any questions and for support and reassurance to be provided. This is more likely to lead to the individual feeling more in control and empowered to make decisions.
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Specialist Role In Assessment
Following the initial assessment in primary care, further cognitive, behavioral, functional, and imaging assessments can be carried out in a specialist setting. With their additional AD experience, access to other specialties, and possibly fewer time constraints than the PCP, the specialist is able to conduct a more comprehensive testing battery, using additional clinical assessments and biomarkers to determine causes of impairment and confirm diagnosis .
Because the cognitive impacts of early-stage AD may vary from patient to patient, it is important to consider which cognitive domains are affected in these early stages when considering which assessments to use. Specialists are able to conduct a full neuropsychological test battery that covers the major cognitive domains preferably, a battery should contain more than one test per domain to ensure adequate sensitivity in capturing cognitive impairment . This step can help with obtaining an in-depth understanding of the subtle changes in cognition seen in the early stages of AD and enables the clinician to monitor subsequent changes over time.
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Other Types Of Dementia
Other progressive forms of dementia include frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementiaand it’s also possible to have a combination of dementia types.
With frontotemporal dementia, nerve cells in the parts of the brain involved in behavior, communication, and personality begin to degenerate. Thus, people with this condition typically have symptoms that impact how they behave, reason, or communicate. Movement is also affected.
Lewy Body Dementia
In Lewy body dementia, wads of protein accumulate in the brain. These proteins can also be found in patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. People with this form of dementia might hallucinate, have trouble concentrating, or experience difficulty with physical coordination and movement.
Vascular dementia is second only to Alzheimers in its prevalence in people with dementia. It occurs as a result of problems with the blood vessels that involve the brain. While people with this form of dementia may have difficulty with recall, their most obvious symptoms are likely to be trouble with organization, reasoning, concentration, and thinking quickly.
Difficulty Finding The Right Words
Another early symptom of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.
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Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Some people may experience a greater problem with concentration. Routine day-to-day tasks requiring critical thought may take longer as the disease progresses.
The ability to drive safely may also be called into question. If you or a loved one gets lost while driving a commonly traveled route, this may be a symptom of AD.
Trouble And Hesitation Initiating Conversations
It takes a certain skillset to make good conversationperiod. And it takes a lot of confidence to start them, too. But if you’ve always been a social butterfly and you suddenly find that you can’t so much as utter a greeting to an old friend, this could be one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s, as the Alzheimer’s Association notes.
Similar to social withdrawal, those with Alzheimer’s often avoid conversation in order to hide their mental decline. And for more surprising symptoms, here are 40 Signs of Poor Health No One Over 40 Should Ignore.
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Trouble With The Passage Of Time
Typically, time isn’t a real problem. Most people are able to tell the difference between a few minutes and a few hours. But one early sign of Alzheimer’s is when someone’s perception of time is affected.
“Five minutes can seem like five hours for someone with ,” Lisa P. Gwyther, MSW, LCSW, an associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, told CBS News. “So a husband may think his wife has been gone for hours or even weeks, even if it’s just been a few minutes, or he might tell his grandchild that he hasn’t seen him in five years, even though he just saw him yesterday.”