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Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The 10 Warning Signs You Need to Know

Recognizing and taking steps to address the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias can be extremely challenging — especially in the early stages. It’s easy and common to dismiss cognitive changes in oneself or a family member as “normal aging.”

“Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging,” says Dr. Keith Fargo, director, scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association. “With normal aging, you may forget where you parked your car — that happens to all of us. But if you get in your car and get lost coming home — that’s not normal.”

Alzheimer’s is a fatal progressive disease that attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and tissue, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan and ultimately function. Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, that number is projected to skyrocket to nearly 14 million.

To help families identify signs early on, the Alzheimer’s Association offers 10 Warning Signs and Symptoms, a list of some common signs that can be early symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementias:

1. Disruptive memory loss. Forgetting recently learned information, asking the same questions over and over and increasingly relying on memory aids.

2. Challenges in solving problems. Changes in one’s ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers, such as having trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Difficulty completing daily tasks, such as organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

4. Confusion with time or place. Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Vision problems, which may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. Trouble following or joining a conversation or a struggle with vocabulary. For example, calling a “watch” a “hand-clock.”

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Putting things in unusual places and being unable to go back over one’s steps to find them again.

8. Decreased or poor judgment. Changes in judgment or decision-making when dealing with such matters as money and grooming.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation can result in a withdrawal from hobbies or social activities.

10. Changes in mood and personality. Mood and personality changes, such as confusion, suspicion, depression, fearfulness and anxiety.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and to find resources, visit alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer’s Association or call its 24/7, free Helpline at 800.272.3900.

It’s important to note that exhibiting one or more of these 10 warning signs does not mean someone has Alzheimer’s. In fact, these signs may signal other — even treatable — conditions. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor to understand what is driving cognitive changes so you can better manage the condition — whatever the diagnosis.


PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Alzheimer’s Association

Doctors may be no match for computers when it comes to Alzheimer’s.  A new technology could be used to help patients before the disease causes debilitating symptoms.

A study published in July in the journal Neurobiology of Aging found that artificial intelligence could detect signs of the disease in patient brain scans before physicians. The computer-based algorithm was able to correctly predict if a person would develop Alzheimer’s disease up to two years before he or she actually displayed symptoms. It was correct 84 percent of the time.

Researchers are hopeful that the tool will be helpful in determining before the onset of the disease which patients to choose for clinical trials or for drugs that could slow its progression and delay its crippling effects.

“If you can tell from a group of individuals who is the one that will develop the disease, one can better test new medications that could be capable of preventing the disease,” co-lead study author Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto, an associate professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry at McGill University, told Live Science.

The researchers were able to train the artificial intelligence program to recognize Alzheimer’s disease in the brain by showing it before and after scans of 200 people who had the disease. The AI technology was then shown scans of 270 volunteers ” 43 of whom eventually developed Alzheimer’s. The AI technology was able to accurately predict 84 percent of the cases in which the volunteers eventually developed the disease.

Article was written by Alexa Lardieri, U.S.News

The demands of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming. If this stress is left untreated, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to caregiver burnout. When you are experiencing burnout, it is difficult to do anything, let alone care for someone else.

Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging since it is typically a chronic, long-term challenge. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly discouraging when there’s no hope that your family member will get better.

Without adequate help and support, you may become vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression. Other signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout include anxiety, depression, irritability, and trouble concentrating. Feeling tired and run-down, difficulty sleeping and overreacting to minor situations are other common symptoms. Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is the first step to dealing with this problem.

Once you have recognized the symptoms of caregiver burnout and you realize that full-time caregiving is no longer a healthy option for you or your loved one, it is time to seek help. Remember, you won’t be able to care for someone else if you don’t take care of yourself.

The professional care choices, however, can be overwhelming and often, families do not want to hire care inside their home or place their loved one in an expensive residential community. Those services are excellent for some, but are there any other choices? What else can you do? Perhaps it is time to consider an adult day program.

The George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, Inc.® is one such day program and offers an excellent alternative. With its first center nestled in the heart of Hillcrest and fondly called “The Little Blue House”, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, Inc.® is truly a hidden gem in San Diego. Founded by Joy Glenner and the late Dr. George G. Glenner, the famous researcher and physician who discovered the link between the beta-amyloid protein and Alzheimer’s, these centers offer vital respite for distraught caregivers.

Now with centers in Hillcrest, Encinitas, and Chula Vista, each Glenner Center offers compassionate, expert dementia care for individuals with all forms of dementia Monday-Friday, 8:45 a.m-5:15 p.m. Their day program allows your loved one to continue to live at home while still receiving the expert care and socialization they need during the daytime hours. It also allows you, as the caregiver, to get the break that is essential for your own health.

Please give the Glenner Centers a call. They can help.

Written by: Lisa Tyburski
Director of Business Development | George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, Inc.®
www.glenner.org | 619-543-4700

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