Alzheimer’s disease is a serious disorder that affects millions of people all over the world. In the initial stages of the disease, symptoms can be mild, but they increase in severity over time until patients have extreme difficulty with even basic executive functions. Being able to identify the symptoms of Alzheimer’s is essential if you want to receive a diagnosis as soon as possible, which will enable you to get on medications that can slow the progression of symptoms right away. If you’re not sure what to look for, read on to learn more about the most common Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
What are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
There is a wide range of Alzheimer symptoms, but there are several common early warning signs that anyone concerned about dementia should pay attention to. Memory loss is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s and is one of the first symptoms that many people experience. This can include forgetting recent events and conversations, misplacing items more frequently, and other associated memory problems. These incidents of memory loss may initially seem like the kind of lapses that most of us have, but when someone has Alzheimer’s, issues with memory loss will persist and become more frequent.
As the disease progresses, these symptoms will become more severe, and changes in the brain will lead to worsening troubles in several areas. Memory is one area that is heavily affected, but patients with Alzheimer’s disease also struggle with thinking and reasoning, decision making, planning, familiar daily tasks, behavioral changes, and activities like reading books, dancing, and singing. This is caused by the disease impacting the parts of the brain that control these skills.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Though Alzheimer’s is one of the most well-known forms of dementia, many people still don’t know what it is or how the disease works. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disease that causes the brain to atrophy, which in turn causes brain cells to die. It’s the most common cause of dementia, which is categorized by a continuous decline in cognitive, behavioral, and social skills. Medications can temporarily improve or slow the progression of symptoms, but there is no cure for the disease or treatment that alters the disease process in the brain.
There are over five million people in the United States over the age of 65 who are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that 60 to 80 percent of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s. The causes of the disease aren’t completely understood, though it is believed to be connected to abnormal functioning of proteins in the brain. This failure to function properly disrupts neurons and triggers toxic events that cause them to sustain damage, lose connections, and die.
Certain risk factors can increase an individual’s susceptibility to developing Alzheimer’s disease. These factors include age, family history, genetics, sex, mild cognitive impairment, history of head trauma, air pollution, excessive consumption of alcohol, lack of sleep, and lifestyle. It’s important to note that unlike some diseases, there isn’t a simple or definitive genetic test for Alzheimer’s disease. There are some rare mutations that almost guarantee the development of Alzheimer’s, but patients with these mutations account for a very small percentage of Alzheimer’s cases.
It’s likely that we’ll learn a lot more about the causes and possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in the coming years. Though there still isn’t a cure, activists and researchers are hopeful that there could be in the future. One of the best things you can do if you or someone you care about is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s is to look out for early symptoms and reach out to a medical professional as soon as you suspect something may be wrong. It may not change the disease process, but medication can provide a meaningful improvement to quality of life and slow disease progression.