How to Recognise the Signs for Alzheimer’s & Dementia and Take Action

alzheimers sign

How to Recognise the Signs for Alzheimer’s & Dementia and Take Action

“The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been kindness, beauty, and truth.”
— Albert Einstein

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects millions of people worldwide, with symptoms ranging from memory loss to changes in behaviour and personality. These conditions can manifest in various ways, impacting memory, cognition, behaviour, and daily functioning. Recognising the early signs of Alzheimer’s is crucial for early intervention and effective management of the disease, allowing individuals and loved ones to seek appropriate medical care and support. 

In this article, we will explore the common signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, in hopes that it can empower you to recognise the early warning signs and take appropriate action to promote cognitive health and well-being.

Is Alzheimer’s Disease Different from Dementia?

The word Alzheimer’s is often used together with dementia. Though they share many similarities in terms of symptoms, they are slightly different. Dementia is a general term used to describe a set of symptoms that affect cognitive abilities, memory, thinking, and behaviour. It is not a specific disease but rather an umbrella term for a group of symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause or type of dementia, accounting for the majority of cases. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects memory and cognitive functions. There are also other types of dementia, each with its own specific causes and characteristics.

Types of Dementia

  • Alzheimer’s Disease: We shall talk in more depth about this disease in this article. 

  • Vascular Dementia: Caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, typically due to stroke or small blood vessel disease.

  • Lewy Body Dementia: Characterised by the presence of abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain, leading to cognitive and motor symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Frontotemporal Dementia: A group of disorders characterised by degeneration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, leading to changes in behaviour, personality, and language.

  • Mixed Dementia: When more than one type of dementia is present, such as Alzheimer’s disease combined with vascular dementia.

  • Parkinson’s Disease Dementia: People with Parkinson’s disease may develop dementia as the disease progresses, leading to cognitive and motor symptoms.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, cognitive assessments, and laboratory tests. The diagnostic process for Alzheimer’s may include:

  • Medical History & Physical Examination

The doctor will review the person’s medical history, including symptoms, family history, and any underlying health conditions. A physical examination may also be conducted to assess overall health and neurological function

senior health dementia

  • Cognitive Assessments

Depending on different healthcare providers, a few rounds of cognitive assessments will be administered to assess memory, attention, language, and other cognitive functions. Some common tests used include the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA).

  • Neurological Evaluation

A neurological examination may be performed to assess reflexes, coordination, muscle strength, and sensation. This helps identify any neurological abnormalities that may be indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Imaging Studies

Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans, may be used to assess brain structure and function. These tests can help detect changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, such as shrinkage of brain tissue or abnormal protein deposits.

  • Laboratory Tests

Blood tests may be conducted to rule out other potential causes of cognitive impairment, such as vitamin deficiencies, thyroid dysfunction, or infections.

Signs of Alzheimer’s

Let’s look at key warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, so we can identify potential symptoms and seek timely medical evaluation and support for ourselves or our loved ones.

  1. Memory Loss

One of the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss that disrupts daily life. This may include forgetting recently learned information, frequently repeating questions or statements, and relying on memory aids such as notes or reminders.

  1. Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks

People with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty completing familiar tasks that they used to do effortlessly. This could include tasks such as cooking a meal, following a familiar recipe, or driving to a familiar location.

  1. Confusion with Time & Place

Individuals with Alzheimer’s may become disoriented and confused about time, place, and events. They may lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time, or they may forget where they are or how they got there.

  1. Challenges with Problem-Solving & Planning

Alzheimer’s can impair a person’s ability to think logically, solve problems, and make decisions. This may manifest as difficulty following a plan or recipe, organising tasks, or managing finances.

  1. Changes in Mood & Personality

Alzheimer’s can cause changes in mood, behaviour, and personality. This may include increased irritability, agitation, anxiety, or depression, as well as withdrawal from social activities and hobbies.

  1. Difficulty Finding Words or Communicating

People with Alzheimer’s may struggle to find the right words or follow a conversation. They may repeat themselves frequently or have difficulty expressing their thoughts and ideas.

What to Do If You Suspect Alzheimer’s

alzheimers care

When faced with the suspicion of Alzheimer’s disease in oneself or a loved one, it can be a daunting and emotionally challenging experience. However, taking proactive steps and seeking appropriate support and guidance can make a difference in the quality of life and care. 

Let’s look at some actionable steps that can help us navigate this difficult journey with confidence and compassion.

  1. Seek Medical Evaluation

If you notice any signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or a loved one, it’s vital to seek a comprehensive medical evaluation from a healthcare professional. A thorough assessment can help determine the cause of symptoms and rule out other possible conditions.

  1. Educate Yourself

Learn as much as you can about Alzheimer’s disease, including its symptoms, progression, and available treatments. Knowledge is empowering and can help you make informed decisions about care and support. There are many useful resources online to get started. 

  1. Develop a Support Network

Reach out to family members, friends, and support groups for emotional support and practical assistance. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, and having a strong support network can make a significant difference. You are not alone! 

  1. Explore Care Options

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are treatments and care techniques available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Talk to your healthcare provider about medication options, lifestyle interventions, and supportive therapies.

You can consider getting help and support to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Places like Komune Care have trained nurses and professionals on board who are adept at caring for persons living with Alzheimer’s. There are also ageing-in-place services available that allows seniors to age in the comfort of their homes. 

  1. Plan for the Future

Take proactive steps to plan for the future, including legal and financial matters. This may include creating advance directives, establishing power of attorney, and making arrangements for long-term care.

  1. Focus on Quality of Life

Focus on maintaining the highest possible quality of life for yourself or your loved one with Alzheimer’s. There are several helpful steps to take when caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, such as adapting daily routines, engaging in meaningful activities, and prioritising emotional well-being. Understanding care tips specifically for this condition can benefit both the patient and caregivers. 

Living with Alzheimer’s

Recognising the signs of Alzheimer’s and taking action early is essential for effective management of the disease and improving quality of life for individuals affected by Alzheimer’s and their families. 

By taking proactive steps and seeking support, we hope that you can tackle the challenges of Alzheimer’s with resilience and compassion. Remember that you are not alone, and help and support are available every step of the way.

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.”

— Ralph Marston

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