Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
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.
Difficulties In Thinking Things Through And Planning
A person may get confused more easily and find it harder to plan, make complex decisions or solve problems.
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Normal Is No Longer Normal
With early-onset Alzheimers, nothing seems normal. It becomes a struggle to maintain ones daily life, familiar places become less recognizable and normal daily tasks are more challenging. Frustration may be the new normal, and lifestyle changes, more assistance and resources are now necessary to maintain ones independence and safety.
Misplacing Things And Losing The Ability To Retrace Steps
People with Alzheimers often misplace things, leaving them in unusual places that they then cannot remember later. And when they realize that theyve lost these things, they find themselves unable to retrace their steps and locate them. If this happens often enough, the person can become frustrated or even begin to think that other people are stealing these things or hiding them from them.
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Cant Find The Right Words When Speaking Or Writing
People living with Alzheimer’s often find themselves pausing during a conversation because they cant remember the name of a common object. This can extend to being temporarily unable to remember the names of old friends or family members.
This is embarrassing, so they may become reluctant to engage in conversations because they often lose their train of thought. Repetitive conversations can result, as they tell the same story over and over to people who have already heard it.
Tips For Living With Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
Coping Skills for Yourself
- You will experience bad days and good days. Concentrating on the good days will help you cope.
- Join a support group. You are not alone in your struggle. There are several resources available for individuals dealing with having Alzheimers.
- Do not let your health deteriorate. Continue to see your doctor on a regular basis and follow instructions on exercise, diet and medication.
- Go to a professional counselor to express your feelings. Share your fears and worries with a clergy member, family or friends. Whatever you do, dont keep your feelings bottled up inside.
Helping Family and Friends Cope
- Talk to your partner or spouse about the future and concerns like caregiving needs, finances, intimacy, taking care of your home and even children. Make decisions ahead of time while you still can.
- Encourage your family to consider joining a support group for caregivers and family members.
- Tell your children you have Alzheimers, about the symptoms you may experience and changes that will occur in your lives. Children are often scared and feel angry or helpless. You can record your words of encouragement, memories and feelings to share with your children when you physically cannot.
- Socialize with your friends for as long as you can. Do not keep them in the dark. Let them know you are suffering from the disease and what to expect. Keep them in the loop and inform them about support groups.
Coping with Your Career with Early Onset Alzheimer’s
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Be Open With Family And Friends
- Talk to your spouse and/or other close family members about your thoughts, fears, and wishes. Your family can help you plan for the future, including decisions about health care and legal and financial issues.
- Talk openly with children about your disease. Understand that they may be feeling concerned, confused, upset, or afraid. If appropriate, involve your children in discussions and decisions that affect the whole family.
- Your friends or neighbors might not know how to react to your diagnosis. They may feel like they dont know what to say or how to help, and may be waiting for you to make the first move. Invite friends to spend time with you. And dont be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Can Alzheimers Be Prevented
You may think Alzheimers disease is something inevitable that happens as we age, but thats not the case. In fact, its not part of the normal aging process at all. And because theres no known cure, all we can do right now is focus on Alzheimer’s prevention:7
- Protect your brain. Theres a connection between head injuries and risk of dementia. Buckle your seat belt, wear your helmet and be cautious when youre roughhousing.
- Focus on heart health. Theres a strong link between brain health and heart health. After all, the heart is what pumps oxygen-rich blood to your brain for it to function. Work with your doctor to make sure your heart is working in tip-top shape.
- Eat foods that boost brain health. Speaking of heart health, many heart diseases are caused from a poor diet. Plus, certain foods help with brain function. Find a diet to help keep your heart healthy, like the Mediterranean diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet.
- Be social. Social activityhelps keep your brain active. Participating in exercise groups or book clubs can help keep your body and mind active and strong.
- Exercise your mind. You might think exercise is just for your body. But in truth, there are benefits you get from working out your brain too. Make time to read, do puzzles, play a memory game and maybe challenge yourself to a brain teaser here and there.
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Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease
In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Increased sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.
Genetic Risk Factors To Consider
For most people with early-onset and late-onset Alzheimers, the disease appears to be caused by a combination of genetics, lifestyle, and environmental influences interacting in ways that are still not clearly understood.
Researchers have made progress in identifying genes that raise the risk of both early-onset and late-onset Alzheimers.
Having a variant of the apolipoprotein E gene increases the odds of developing Alzheimers in people of all ages, though it does not mean someone will definitely get the disease. People with this variant, APOE e4, are not only more vulnerable to Alzheimers, but symptoms tend to appear at a younger age.
A subset of cases of Alzheimers in young adults between 7 and 12 percent have a rare form that is directly caused by mutations in three specific genes.
Anyone who inherits one of these mutations has a very strong probability of developing Alzheimers at a young age.
The three mutations linked to this form of early-onset Alzheimers amyloid precursor protein , presenilin 1, and presenilin 2 result in the production of abnormal proteins associated with Alzheimers disease.
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What Causes Alzheimers
While there isnt a known cause of Alzheimers, experts believe several factors contribute to its development including genetics, lifestyle, and environment. The biggest risk factor is age, but its not a direct cause of Alzheimers. Family history is another factor. People who have a close family member with the disease are more likely to get it themselves. Many people ask, Is Alzheimers genetic? While genes may increase your chance for getting the disease, they dont guarantee it.7
When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
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Attention And Language Impairment
While memory challenges can be involved in early onset Alzheimers, signs that something could be wrong can be much broader. In fact, experts note that memory loss, which is closely associated with Alzheimers, may actually be less prominent in people with early onset Alzheimers.
Instead, people with early onset Alzheimers often complain about difficulties finding words in conversation. They can experience problems with attention and orientation, as well as with simple math.
In the aggregate, patients with early-onset Alzheimers Disease, compared to similarly impaired patients with late-onset Alzheimers Disease, have better memory recognition scores and semantic memory but worse attention, language, executive functions, ideomotor praxis, and visuospatial skills, a research paper by Dr. Mario Mendez noted.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
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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.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Related To Dementia
Dementia and Alzheimers are often used interchangeably in conversation, but theres a slight difference between these two conditions. Dementia is a general term for symptoms like decline in memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. Alzheimers, on the other hand, is a specific brain disease that causes one form of dementia. You can think of dementia as the umbrella term for a decline in cognition and Alzheimers as a specific type of dementia.4
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What Is Early Onset Alzheimer’s And Who Is At Risk
early onset Alzheimers.
While the risk for developing early onset is low, only 200,000 of 5.3 million cases are people under the age of 65, Alzheimers disease remains the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
What causes early onset Alzheimers and what are the warning signs?
Heres what you should know.
Understanding Early Onset Alzheimers
One of the greatest risks for developing early onset Alzheimers is having a family history of the disease. Researchers have identified several genes found in families that lead to what is referred to as familial Alzheimers. This type of early onset can impact people in their 30s and 40s.
Because early onset Alzheimers disease is not very common, it is easy to overlook the early symptoms. Even health care professionals might attribute the warning signs of the disease in a middle-aged adult to a hectic, stressful life. Other health conditions that commonly mimic Alzheimers disease, such as a vitamin deficiency or a thyroid problem, may also delay the diagnosis.
Memory problems are probably the symptom most people associate with Alzheimers. As we grow older, it isnt uncommon to have an occasional lapse in memory or to take longer to recall recently learned information. The difference is that the memory loss associated with Alzheimers disrupts daily life. People who are in the early stages of the illness often forget information and are not able to recall it later even if prompted.
What To Watch For
Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:
Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimers Association says. They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.
Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.
Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious becomes upset easily or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.
Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.
People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.
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How Is Alzheimers Diagnosed
Doctors rely on medical history, mental status tests, brain imaging, exams, and diagnostic tests for an accurate Alzheimers diagnosis. Its important to see your doctor early if you notice cognitive changes in yourself or a loved one. Your primary doctor will check your overall health, address concerns and usually oversee the diagnosis process themselves. .8 To make the most of your appointment, consider bringing information on the following:9
- Changes in your health
- Medical history
- Medications including vitamins and supplements youre taking
- Questions you want to ask your doctor
Problems With Vision And Spatial Awareness
Alzheimers disease can sometimes cause vision problems, making it difficult for people to judge distances between objects. The person may find it hard to distinguish contrast and colors or judge speed or distance.
These vision problems combined can affect the persons ability to drive.
Normal aging also affects eyesight, so it is essential to have regular checkups with an eye doctor.
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Differences In Signs Of Dementia In Men And Women
While it is true that the majority of dementia symptoms and signs are seen in both sexes, according to research, some differences can be appreciated between the two. They involve the rate and degree to which certain symptoms develop. The following are such symptoms:
Verbal skills: Men were seen to retain verbal fluency longer than women. This is the ability to correctly perform naming tasks, and the ability to successfully perform delayed recall of words.
Subjective memory complaints: Women were seen to experience memory impairment earlier in the course of dementia than men.
Depressive symptoms: Men with depressive symptoms were found to have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimers disease, compared to women with depressive symptoms.
Rate of symptom progression: A study found that once the initial symptoms of dementia appear in men and women, they tend to progress at a faster rate in women than men. The reasoning for this correlation is not well understood but is suspected to be genetic or environmental in origin.
Finding A Huge Gap In Services And Supports For Younger People
âI unfortunately ran into that brick wall where I was ineligible for just about everything because of my age.â â Faye.
Most social programs and services are designed for older people with dementia. In comparison, the number of programs designed for people living with young onset dementia is sparse.
People living with young onset dementia may not find the programs intended for older adults interesting or beneficial in respect to their needs. They may not feel comfortable in a seniorsâ program. And even if they were interested and comfortable in joining a program, they might be ineligible because of their age!
We have a gap in our knowledge about young onset dementia. As a result, there simply aren’t enough information, support, financial aid and services adapted for younger people living with dementia.
However, this is changing. The Young Onset Gap Analysis Project, initiated through the National Information Support and Education Committee and the Alzheimer Society of Canada , explored the gaps of available learning and support resources for people living with young onset dementia, and sought advice and feedback from those with lived experience.
The information from this report is being used to develop new resources dedicated to education and support for people living with young onset dementia, families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
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