Alzheimer’s Disease International is working for the fourth year in a row to raise awareness and challenge stigmas associated with Alzheimer’s. This years theme ‘Remember Me’ works to help educate people to spot the signs of dementia, and to not forget about loved ones who currently live with dementia.
Dementia is a word that is used to describe different problems with the brain that affect memory, thinking, behavior and emotions. The early symptoms of dementia vary from person to person. Alzheimers Disease International tells us the typical symptoms may include;
Memory loss- Differs from ordinary forgetfulness. Beyond forgetting names and extends to forgetting who people are.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks- May forget how to put clothes on or how to prepare a meal.
Problems with language- Forgetting common words, making speech and writing hard to comprehend.
Disorientation to time and place- May forget familiar places or how to get home. May confuse night and daytime.
Poor or decreased judgement- May dress inappropriately for weather.
Problems with keeping track/misplacing things- Might lose the ability to follow conversations, or take care of home/bills. When misplacing items, they are typically found in odd spots, such as clothing in the fridge.
Changes in mood/behavior/personality- Many experience rapid mood swings for no apparent reason, or become emotionless. They may also become suspicious, anxious or depressed.
Loss of initiative- May spend hours in front of the TV or sleeping and display a loss of interest in hobbies.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50-75% of all cases of dementia, being its number one cause. Alzheimer’s disease destroys cells and nerves in the brain. The brain begins to shrink and gaps develop. Areas that store and retrieve information are specifically affected which then impacts a person ability to remember, speak, think and make decisions.
There is no simple test to diagnose Alzheimer’s. Instead a careful examination of a person history and physical and mental status must be used. Other causes of dementia must be ruled out. The only true way to diagnose dementia is through examination of the brain after death. Alzheimer’s risk factors seem to be linked with family background. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
For more information on dementia and Alzheimer’s and how to care for those you love living with dementia, please visit the Alzheimer’s Disease Internationa page.