What sets Alzheimer’s Disease apart from this normal aging process is a significant excess of these changes to the brain’s composition, leading to a decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills and a person’s ability to function independently.

Background and Statistics

Across the world, there are more than 55 million people living with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia, with nearly 3 million additional cases being diagnosed every year. Deadlier than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, it’s no wonder why an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can feel devastating to patients and their loved ones.

The early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease often mimic the normal aging process of people’s brains. Over time, most people’s brains naturally change and age, affecting memory and thinking skills. What sets Alzheimer’s Disease apart from this normal aging process is a significant excess of these changes to the brain’s composition, leading to a decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills and a person’s ability to function independently.

Maybe you’re like me and you get nervous just reading through the list of potential Alzheimer’s symptoms. Perhaps you’ve seen loved ones walk through an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and know there is no hiding what a horrible, degenerative disease it is. Your personal feelings about this fatal disease are completely understandable and valid.

Signs and Symptoms

Amidst these difficult feelings towards the subject, it is important to know and recognize early signs of Alzheimer’s disease so that a doctor can assess the symptoms sooner rather than later. Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease can include:

  • Forgetting conversations, appointments or events
  • Wandering and getting lost in familiar places
  • Repeating statements and/or questions over and over
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Difficulty in completing familiar, everyday tasks
  • Misplacing things
  • Changes in mood/personality

Although going to the doctor regarding these symptoms is understandably something that people avoid, it is also important to do so for many reasons.  Did you know that trouble with memory can sometimes be attributed to other conditions besides Alzheimer’s Disease?

These conditions can include:

  • Side effects of a prescription
  • Signs of a stroke
  • Thyroid disease
  • B12 deficiency
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Tumors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

It’s good to figure out what’s going on early so that you can address it early, whatever the cause.

What can I expect when going to the doctor?

When going to the doctor for any of the concerns listed above, they will often interview the patient as well as their family. After these interviews, they typically walk the patient through a series of memory tests, problem solving exercises and some brain imaging scans. If the doctor concludes that the symptoms add up to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, patients then have the option to participate in their medical decisions and plan of care.

Why is an early diagnosis important?

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be helpful to patient’s families in planning for the future. Patients can decide if they would like to participate in any clinical trials by partnering with medical experts who are working towards finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. They are also able to participate in family conversations around financial planning, expectations for medical decisions/future care and express their desires with home care. Overall, an early diagnosis can help to alleviate the burden of familial decision making, helping families navigate how to best support and care for their loved ones by knowing and understanding their wishes.

What are the treatment options for Alzheimer’s?

As experts continue to diligently work towards finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, there are a few medications that can temporarily assist with memory and cognitive symptoms while other treatments continue to emerge. Another important thing to note for any treatment plan is the importance of creating a supportive environment for the patient and establishing day-to-day routines. You can refer to this Mayo Clinic article for suggestions on how to get started.

For further information regarding the memory screening process, resources for caregivers, and how to support finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, please visit the links below.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America | Alzheimer’s Awareness Month (alzfdn.org)

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month | Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s disease – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

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Jordyn Schwerin, RN

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Jordyn Schwerin, RN

Kinetiq Health Program Manager

As a Kinetiq Health Program Manager, Jordyn works to create customized and unique wellness solutions, aiming to improve her clients’ overall health and quality of life. Her responsibilities include collaborating with client wellness teams and hosting one-on-one client meetings to communicate and implement wellness plans based on specific needs.

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