Learn the symptoms of Alzheimer’s
November is Alzheimer’s awareness month, a time to get educated on a disease that can affect not only the victim – but the person’s family and friends too.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that gets worse over time and currently has no cure. It is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to CDC. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life.
Today it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the cost of care was estimated to be $200 billion in 2012.
In Louisiana, 31 in 100,000 of the population die annually as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some change in memory is normal as we grow older, but the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease are more than simple memory lapses. According to the National Institute on Aging, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:
• Has difficulty with new learning and making new memories.
• Has trouble finding words – may substitute or make up words that sound like or mean something like the forgotten word.
• Loses spark or zest for life – does not start anything.
• Loses recent memory without a change in appearance or casual conversation.
• Loses judgment about money.
• Has shorter attention span and less motivation to stay with an activity.
• Easily loses way going to familiar places.
• Resists change or new things.
• Has trouble organizing and thinking logically.
• Asks repetitive questions.
• Withdraws, loses interest, is irritable and not as sensitive to others’ feelings, is uncharacteristically angry when frustrated or tired.
• Takes longer to do routine chores and becomes upset if rushed or if something unexpected happens.
If someone has several or even most of the signs listed above, it does not mean that he or she has Alzheimer’s disease. Treatable conditions that may mimic Alzheimer’s disease include depression, drug interaction, thyroid problems, excess alcohol use, symptoms associated with certain vitamins and dehydration.
It is best to consult a doctor when you have concerns about memory loss, thinking skills and behavior changes in yourself or a loved one. For more information and resources on Alzheimer’s disease, visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Alzheimers.
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