Most of us have heard of Alzheimer’s before. Yet myths surrounding this disease still abound. Do you think you would be able to detect the signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or a loved one? While there is currently no treatment, early detection allows those affected to get the care, support and medications they need to better manage the disease; early detection also gives them more time to make the various legal, financial and medical decisions that are required.
Since family members (spouses or children) are usually the first ones to notice changes in a loved one’s behaviour, it is important for all of us to be informed about Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is an incurable, degenerative disease of the brain. It causes a gradual and irreversible loss of mental capacity, especially memory. It is the most common form of dementia in seniors.
The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss, difficulty performing everyday tasks, mood swings and changes in behaviour. The order in which these symptoms appear varies from one person to another.
It is important to note, however, that these symptoms are not part of the normal aging process. If one or more of these symptoms develops, it is important to see a doctor as they could be caused by another illness or condition (e.g. depression, drug interaction or an infection).
10 warning signs
Following is the list of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease developed by the Alzheimer Society of Canada:
- Memory loss that affects daily life
For example, often forgetting things, such as recent events, and not remembering them later.
- Problems performing common tasks
For instance, cooking a meal, getting dressed, brushing your teeth or using the telephone.
- Language difficulties
Such as forgetting simple words or replacing them with words that do not make sense.
- Time and space disorientation
For instance, getting lost on your own street and not knowing how you got there or how to return home.
- Compromised judgement
For example, failing to recognize a health problem that needs to be addressed or wearing warm clothing on a hot summer day.
- Difficulty with abstract thinking
Being unable to understand the meaning of the numbers in your chequebook.
- Losing things
Misplacing things because they were put away in an unusual place (e.g. hair dryer in the fridge).
- Sudden changes in mood or behaviour for no apparent reason
- Personality changes
People with Alzheimer’s can become confused, withdrawn or mistrustful. Apathy, fear and unusual behaviour may also occur.
- Lethargy and loss of interest
Your pharmacist can give you information on the drugs used to ease some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Feel free to ask for advice!