Alzheimer’s disease is a form of senile dementia that strikes an alarming number of older adults. It is a degenerative and ultimately fatal disease that robs the sufferer of their last years with friends, family and loved ones.
People who experience Alzheimer symptoms find that the disease not only robs them of their minds and their physical functioning but also of the relationships they have with friends and family that are often a comfort as people age.
Alzheimer symptoms are different for each of the different stages of the disease. Commonly, the disease is segmented into three different stages: early, middle and late. Each stage has its own hallmark symptoms and signs that challenge the sufferer and the caregiver. Symptoms in the early stages are those that doctors and patients recognize as the beginning of the disease.
One of the most common Alzheimer symptoms is the loss of memory of common smells. In recent research scientists were able to develop an early screening scratch and sniff tool that will help doctors to recognize this early loss of memory. This type of test wasnt often available in the office. Early detection and treatment has been linked with a decreased progression of the disease and a longer quality of life that is acceptable to the patient and caregiver. Using this scratch and sniff test will help to improve early diagnosis.
The occasional memory lapse is common as we grow older but the memory losses that people with Alzheimers suffer are different. The Alzheimer Association has developed a checklist to help family and patients determine if a visit to the doctor is appropriate for further evaluation. However, as with any other disease process or question, physicians would rather that a patient visit to express concerns that may not turn out to be concrete instead of staying home and sitting on a problem that just wont go away.
One of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer symptoms are memory loss as explained earlier. The occasional forgetfulness of names or appointments is normal but a person who begins to forget more and more often should be further evaluated.
People with early signs of dementia will have difficulty performing familiar tasks such as dialing a phone number or preparing a meal. They may also have difficulty with finding words and will substitute explanations making their conversations difficult to follow. For instance, because they cant remember the word knife they may say that thing you cut with.
People who are suffering from Alzheimer’s will often become disoriented in familiar places and so may get lost in their own neighborhood and not know how to get home. They may also make poor judgments. For instance, they may put on the wrong type of clothing for the weather or make a questionable judgment about food or friends.
Difficulty with complex mental tasks, misplacing objects or changes in mood or behavior are also issues that affect those who are suffering from early stages of dementia. A person with Alzheimer’s may also lose their initiative to do anything during the day and spend hours in front of the television. Personality changes may be exhibited as more dependence of family members, great suspicion or fearfulness.
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