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Know the Signs of Alzheimer's

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Knowing the warning signs of Alzheimer's disease is important because it may lead to an early diagnosis, experts say.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, early diagnosis enables patients to:

  • Plan ahead for the future.
  • Potentially take part in a clinical drug trial.
  • Start treatments that may help maintain independence for a longer time and possibly improve symptoms.
  • Be involved in decisions about their care, living options, financial and legal matters.
  • Cultivate relationships with doctors and care partners.
  • Take advantage of care and support services that make it easier for patients and families to manage the disease.

Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder, is the most common type of dementia seen in the elderly. In a recent news release, the association listed the 10 warnings signs of Alzheimer's:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life. This includes forgetting recently learned information, forgetting important dates or events, repeatedly asking for the same information, and relying on memory aides or family members for things that used to be handled on one's own.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems. For example, becoming unable to develop or follow a plan or work with numbers, having difficulty keeping track of monthly bills or following a recipe, difficulty concentrating, and taking much longer than normal to do things one has done before.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or at leisure. This may include getting lost while driving in a familiar area or needing help using the microwave.
  • Confusion with time or place. People may forget where they are or how they got there.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, such as judging distance.
  • New problems with spoken or written words. A typical example is calling things by the wrong name.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps in order to find lost objects.
  • Declines in judgment or decision-making. For example, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers or paying less attention to grooming and keeping clean.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality. For example, becoming easily upset as well as confused, depressed, fearful, anxious or suspicious.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about the stages and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Alzheimer's Association, news release, November 2011

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