Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is it Alzheimer's?

Confusion, forgetfulness, and changes in behavior are not normal signs of aging, as many beleive. These symptoms point to possible Alzheimer's Disease.

Although Alzheimer’s affects one in 10 people over the age of 65 and one in two over the age of 85, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the symptoms are often not recognized until the disease has progressed, sometimes considerably.

Almost half of Alzheimer’s disease patients are first diagnosed in the moderate
to severe stages of the disease. Being able to identify symptoms of the disease is the first step to a timely diagnosis. Although there is no cure, there are medications to help alleviate symptoms associated with the disease.

Treatment needs to start as soon as possible, because the longer the delay in treatment, the less function is maintained. The drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer's Disease are not a cure, but studies point to benefits. Most people treated are able to maintain a higher level of function for longer periods of time. Although decline in abilities to care for oneself and cognitive deterioration is inevitable, medication therapy clearly is beneficial.

If you have noticed any of the following changes in a loved one’s behavior, cognition and daily functioning, consider this an opportunity to address potential signs of Alzheimer’s disease with a doctor. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that adults be familiar with the symptoms, which include:

✷ Difficulty performing familiar tasks, such as forgetting how to do routine chores, prepare a meal, participate in lifelong hobbies or dress appropriately for the weather.

✷ Disorientation, such as forgetting where the toothbrush was placed the night before or where one lives.

✷ Changes in behavior – as Alzheimer’s progresses, behavior changes, such as
restlessness, sleeplessness, delusions, hallucinations, and pacing back and forth.

✷ Changes in mood – mood swings from calmness to anger and fearful or suspicious thoughts about oneĆ­s surroundings may occur.