Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that is the most common cause of dementia. There is currently no single cause and known cure for this progressive brain disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) they have estimated that the number of those affected by dementia may triple from 50 million to 152 million by year 2050. Read on to learn more about the early signs and how it is diagnosed.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s was first discovered by psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer during the early twentieth century. He examined a woman’s brain after she died of an unusual mental illness and found many abnormal clumps called amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers.
Although physical manifestations can only be measured with the help of advance medical equipment, there are also some early signs which can be observed in Alzheimer’s patients like:
- Memory loss that worsens over time – forgetting small things is normal but having Alzheimer’s may cause you to forget essential tasks which may even affect job functions.
- Speech impairment – a person with Alzheimer’s may find it difficult to use the appropriate words when forming sentences/making conversation.
- Poor judgment – when faced with a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s, patients may be unable to perform basic responsibilities like dressing up for the day.
- Losing track of time – another common symptom is forgetting dates or seasons.
- Misplacing things often – a common occurrence inside the household are false accusations of theft between the patient and those around him/her. This is because their poor memory also causes them to hide things in unusual places and eventually forget about it.
- Avoidance of social activities – hobbies and other interests may eventually be viewed as daunting tasks.
- Drastic changes in personality – extreme confusion can cause fluctuations in behavior.
- Sundowning – is a group of symptom associated with dementia that usually happens later in the day and can cause aggression, pacing back and forth, and anxiety.
- Wandering – those with dementia can easily get lost and wander off when left unsupervised.
- Hallucinations – this usually occurs in the latter stages when the person seems to be living in the past rather than focusing on the present and the future.
Doctors can only diagnose Alzheimer’s with 90% certainty since absolute diagnosis can only be made at autopsy. Your doctors may conduct the following tests to rule out other medical conditions:
- Brain scans like MRI or CT scan
- Neurological exams
- Blood tests
- Neuropsychological testing
It is important to schedule regular visits to your doctor so you can get the proper diagnosis for your condition. Alzheimer’s is a complex disorder that requires the close observation of family members and the expertise of a health professional. Never take any kind of medication without the prescription of a doctor.