June is Alzheimer’s and brain awareness month. If you have had any experience with a loved one who suffered from Alzheimer’s, you understand the devastating toll it takes on everyone connected with that person. Alzheimer’s awareness month gives us the opportunity to instruct those who are unfamiliar with this disease to be able to recognize its symptoms, understand its progression, and then ask for help.
Alzheimer’s Is Not Caused By Old Age
Just because someone gets older, it doesn’t mean they will automatically get Alzheimer’s, nor do you have to be old to develop early onset Alzheimer’s. There are many individuals under the age of 65 who have this disease.
Alzheimer’s is one of several diseases under the broad umbrella of dementia, although it does account for sixty to eighty percent of dementia cases.
It seems to be caused by the degeneration of brain cells which eventually die. The decline affects thinking, behavioral, and social skills.
Alzheimer’s Is A Progressive Disease
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments available to slow down its progression. The symptoms of dementia and mental decline become worse over time but vary from person to person. In most cases a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis. Others may live much longer depending on their individual circumstances.
Stages Of Alzheimer’s
There are three basic stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. The earliest signs of the disease have the following characteristics:
- Difficulty finding the right word or remembering names
- Trouble performing normal tasks
- Inability to remember something they just read
- Losing important or valuable items
- Difficulty planning or organizing tasks
Don’t become over anxious If you seem to lose your keys a lot. This does not mean you are on your way to dementia.
As the disease progresses, certain mood changes can occur, anger or irritability can spark easily, they may wander, reverse sleep patterns, and lose bowel and bladder control.
Late stage Alzheimer patients can lose touch with reality or their environment. They may not recognize familiar people or be able to carry on a conversation. They will eventually lose the ability to walk, stand or sit by themselves, or even be able to swallow. At this stage they need constant care by a professional.
Contact Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center if you or a loved one is showing continued early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and get a thorough assessment.