What Can You Do About It
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 65 has dementia. Though the disease affects each patient differently, most people with Alzheimer’s live only 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.
While you cannot reverse dementia or the damage it causes, there are ways to improve quality of life. Here are some simple tips for management that you can discuss with your doctor:
- Take prescription medications to counteract cognitive and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Find support in the form of therapy, support groups, friends, or family to help develop coping mechanisms for cognitive and behavioral changes.
- Address safety issues in the home by installing safety bars in the bathroom and shower, automatic shut-off switches on appliances, and reminders to lock the door.
- Stay on top of co-existing conditions, working with your doctor to manage medical problems with the proper form of treatment.
- Follow a healthy diet that supports brain health and function. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, natural sources of omega fatty acids, and foods high in fiber and protein.
- Talk to your doctor about taking supplements to support memory and cognitive function. Options you might consider include caprylic acid, coenzyme Q10, ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3 fatty acids.
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.
When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness may be a normal part of aging and is not always caused by a neurodegenerative brain disease such as Alzheimers. If you happen to suspect someone you know is suffering from early onset dementia symptoms and doesnt show any signs of improving, it may be a good idea to have them speak to a doctor to get neurological testing.
Often, a neurologist is required to assess dementia through a physical exam and ordering various tests to determine mental health. There are many things a neurologist can do in the office that can be a good indicator to whether the patient truly is suffering from dementia or not.
Typically, dementia affects persons of advanced age, usually over the age of 65, but it is possible for individuals to be affected as early as their 30s, 40s, or 50s. Earlier age of onset may have additional factors playing a role in the accelerated and early presentation of those individuals, such as genetics. While dementia, in general, may be difficult to treat, early recognition and diagnosis may aid in slowing the progression of the disease, allowing the ability to take the steps to prevent further mental deterioration.
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How Your Driving Might Reveal Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s
Everyone’s driving changes as they age. But for some people, subtle differences emerge in how they control a vehicle, which scientists say are associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
In an experiment to find out whether these driving differences can be detected using Global Positioning System-based location-tracking devices, a group of over-65s in Missouri in the US agreed to have their driving closely monitored for one year.
The DRIVES Study at Washington University in St. Louis, led by Catherine Roe and Ganesh Babulal and funded by the National Institute on Aging, wanted to find out was whether just studying the driving habits of this group alone could reveal the start of the disease – without the need for invasive or expensive medical procedures.
After 365 days accumulating the information, they are confident that it could.
Among the 139 people involved in the study, medical tests had already shown around half of them had very early or “preclinical” Alzheimer’s disease. The other half did not. Analysis of their driving revealed detectable differences between the two groups.
Specifically, those with preclinical Alzheimer’s tended to drive more slowly, make abrupt changes, travel less at night, and logged fewer miles overall, for example. They also visited a smaller variety of destinations when driving, sticking to slightly more confined routes.
But the prediction based on age and driving alone was almost as precise.
What To Do If This Sounds Like You
If someone is experiencing some of these signs, but is still living their daily life reasonably well, they would be a perfect candidate to come in and get screened for participation in the study, says Dr. Sperling. Her team is seeking to screen as many as 10,000 people in order to find 1,000 participants to be part of the trial. Remember, the reason to participate in this study is not because we think you have advanced Alzheimers disease, its to prevent all memory loss due to Alzheimers disease by stopping the disease in its earliest stage, she continues.
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Trouble Keeping Track Of And Paying Bills
Every month, you know exactly which bills are due and whenor at least, you used to know. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, working with numbers becomes difficult, making it hard to ensure payments are going out on time. If you suddenly struggle to remember to pay the same bills you’ve been paying for years, talk to your doctor about the possibility of early onset dementia.
St Signs Of Dementia May Be Physical
Mental Declines Come Later, Study Suggests
dementia dementia among older people may be physical rather than mental, new research suggests.
The findings are a strong indicator that physical and mental performance among the elderly are interconnected, researcher Eric B. Larson, MD, tells WebMD.
âIf we expect the earliest sign of dementia to be subtle changes in cognition, we are probably going to be wrong,â he says.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s Infographic
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What Happens In The Early Stage Of Dementia
Dementia affects everyone differently and early symptoms are often relatively mild and not always easy to notice.
Many people at the early;stage of dementia stay largely independent and only need a bit of assistance with daily living. It is important to focus on what the person can do and not to take over and do things for them. Instead, try doing things with them, for example helping the person develop a routine, reminder lists and prompts, and use technology.
For more information for people living with dementia, see the ‘Keeping active and involved‘ page.
The early stage of dementia is when many people choose to make plans for the future, while they still have the ability to do so. This includes making a Lasting power of attorney , and advance decisions and advance statements to ensure their wishes and preferences are made clear.
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Where To Find Help
When your loved one is displaying troubling symptoms, a trip to a;primary care physician is often the first step. But to get a definitive diagnosis, youll need to see a specialist such as a neurologist, geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist.
If you cant find one, the National Institute on Aging recommends contacting the neurology department of a nearby medical school. Some hospitals also have clinics that focus on dementia.
Ailments can mimic dementia
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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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.
Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
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Early Signs Of Dementia In Men
Dementia is a collection of symptoms, and there are many overlapping features between the different types. Other diseases and disorders can contribute to dementia, which may affect thought processes, communication ability, focus, and memory capacity of those affected. It is important to not assume your loved one has dementia just because they are facing memory problems. The diagnosis can be complicated and requires the assessment of a doctor or medical professional. The following are some of the more common signs of early dementia in men:
Recent memory loss: Forgetting recent conversations or events is often the first sign. Memories are often not affected and may throw off family members, making them think that memory is okay. Often those affected by dementia will not be able to remember what they eat for breakfast.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks: A very reliable warning sign, according to many medical experts. Dementia patients often lose the ability to cook food they once did flawlessly or get lost on their way home in a neighborhood theyve lived in their whole lives.
Language problems: Struggling to communicate thoughts is often an early sign of dementia. They have difficulty explaining things or have trouble finding the right words to express themselves. They may also substitute the wrong word either knowingly or not.
When To See A Gp
If you’re worried about your memory or think you may have dementia, it’s a good idea to see a GP.
If you’re worried about someone else’s memory problems, encourage them to make an appointment and perhaps suggest that you go along with them.
Memory problems are not just caused by dementia they can also be caused by depression, stress, medicines or other health problems.
A GP can carry out some simple checks to try to find out what the cause may be, and they can refer you to a specialist for more tests if necessary.
Read more about diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
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Forgetting Important Dates And Events
Forgetting certain thingslike what you ate for dinner last Thursdayis normal. When you start constantly forgetting important dates and events, however, that could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Pay attention to how often little things slip your mindand if it starts to become a persistent problem, talk to a doctor about the possibility of dementia. And for more health problems that might arise in your golden years, check out these 40 Health Risks That Skyrocket After 40.
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.
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The Signs Of This Form Of Dementia Are Different From Those Of Normal Age
Did you ever stride purposefully into a room, stand in one spot, and then wonder what you’d intended to do? Have you ever lost your house keys, or forgot where you parked the car? Relax. Occasional memory slips are natural.
“Everyone has these experiences sometimes, but if they frequently happen to you or someone you love, they may be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Scott M. McGinnis, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Medical Editor of the Harvard Special Health Report A Guide to Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease.
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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A Personal Alarm Built With Dementia In Mind
If you care for someone with dementia, you may want to consider a system like the CPR Guardian Smartwatch. This light and stylish watch is often preferred by elderly relatives who are used to wearing a watch every day. The CPR Guardian can pair with a carers smartphone, enabling them to find out the wearers GPS location and communicate with the wearer directly through the watch. The watch also comes with an SOS button that alerts the carer directly when pressed. It can even monitor the wearers heart rate! All of these features mean that there is always a way to keep track of your relative with dementia, make sure theyre okay, and be alerted if there is ever a problem.
Sponsored by CPR Guardian
Putting Things In The Wrong Place
This is different to: more normal age-related behaviours such as losing things but being able to retrace the steps to find them.
Losing things or putting things in strange places, and then being unable to retrace steps to find them again, is on the official observation list for early signs of dementia.
Sometimes someone else might be accused of stealing which may occur more frequently over time. ;For example, your dad may insist that a friend keeps stealing his money, whereas its in its regular hiding place.
Other examples that may indicate potential dementia symptoms could include:
- Teabags in the fridge and leaving the milk out
- Toothbrush in the washing basket
- Remote control in the cutlery drawer
- Dirty laundry in the dishwasher
Misplacing or losing items is more common in Alzheimers Disease, rather than vascular dementia. Find out more about the different types of dementia.
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Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Some people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimers. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimers disease. People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease from MedlinePlus.
Hearing Impairment In Conversation
A new study published in Alzheimers & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimers Associationsupports the possibility that hearing impairment can be a very early sign if an individual will have dementia later on in life. Many people with dementia will experience difficulty following speech in a noisy environmenta symptom sometimes called the cocktail party problem. Participants in the study were asked to identify numbers that were spoken over a white noise background sound. They would be subsequently categorized into normal, insufficient, or poor speech-in noise hearing. The study followed up with the participants for eleven years, discovering 1,285 subjects of the; 82,039 men and women aged 60 and older were diagnosed with dementia. Data indicated that individuals with limited speech-in-noise hearing had a 61 percent higher chance of getting dementia than those with average hearing abilities, while those with poor hearing had a stunning 91 percent increase.;
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Talking With A Doctor
After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:
- talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
- contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team