Spring is here! And as a new season arrives, so to are the feelings of hope and renewal for the days ahead. I guess you can say in the mind of a person with Alzheimer’s disease everyday is a renewal. While each day is a new experience, sadly it brings little hope for new experiences, especially for the caregiver.
If you are new to Alzheimer’s, or a new caregiver or unsure of what is going on with your loved one, Alzheimer’s is a slowing down process of the brain’s functions that bring about memory loss. Early symptom’s can be detected by a person’s difficulty in remembering newly learned information eventually leading to a severity where other cognitive skills are effected that reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.
Early signs of Alz usually are:
- Memory loss that interrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning and solving problems
- Confusion with time and place
- Changes in mood and personality
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retracing their steps
- Decreased and poor judgement
- Difficulty in completing familiar tasks
- Withdrawal from social activities
- New problems with words in speaking and writing
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Alzheimer’s is not an old age illness. Alzheimer’s affects many people under the age of 65 which is considered Early On-set Alzheimer’s. Nearly 4 percent of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s have younger-onset * and sadly this number is growing.
While scientists are still working on the causes of early on-set Alzheimer’s, heredity and your gene make-up seem to be the leading cause. Scientists have pinpointed several rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s. People who inherit these rare genes tend to develop symptoms in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Now this doesn’t mean if you are experiencing forgetfulness that you have Alzheimer’s, factors such as stress, lifestyle or head trauma can affect your memory. But if you have family members who have had the disease your chances of inheriting the disease is increased.
You may be wondering what you can do now for yourself or to help your loved one? While this is an illness of genetics you can begin with healthy eating, lowering stress, keeping up with regular check-ups, exercise and having a discussion with your doctor should you feel changes that are causing you issue with your memory. This may lead you to speaking with a doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s.
* For more information and to learn the facts on Alzheimer’s, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website www.alz.org.