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Alzheimers
Senior Health

Alzheimer’s Symptoms to Watch For

Nearly everyone has watched an older relative struggle to recall a name, date, or story. As we age, memory loss becomes more common. That’s normal. We can’t stay sharp forever.

Yet, it may be more serious if a loved one gets lost at a store you visit frequently, begins repeating themselves often, forgets a fond memory, or fails to complete a simple task without help. These could all be signs of dementia. Dementia is a general term, but its most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

Facts and Figures

In 2020 as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of people living with this disease doubles every five years past age 65. Symptoms first appear around age 60 and the risk increases as we get older.

Alzheimer’s involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. It’s progressive and can affect the ability to carry on conversations or perform daily activities.

It is the sixth leading cause of death among U.S. adults and the fifth leading cause of death among adults 65 and older.

Signs of Alzheimer’s

Most people notice changes in themselves before anyone else does. Sometimes, however, they don’t want to acknowledge those changes. In those instances, family and close friends should stay alert for the following and see a doctor for the cause of any one of these.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: forgetting events, relying on sticky notes to remember things, repeating oneself.
  2. Planning or solving problems becomes hard: it’s difficult to pay bills or cook familiar recipes.
  3. Hard to complete simple tasks: it’s difficult to make calls, drive, or shop.
  4. Confusion with time or place: can’t understand an event or confusing dates.
  5. Confusing images or spatial relationships: difficulty balancing, tripping on objects because distance is hard to judge, spilling and dropping things.
  6. New problems with speaking or writing words: becomes hard to join conversations or remember simple terms.
  7. Misplacing things: putting keys where they don’t belong, for example, and not being able to retrace steps to find them.
  8. Poor judgment: becoming victim to a scam, unable to care for a pet, or failing to clean oneself.
  9. Withdrawal from people: not doing normal activities because it’s too hard to keep up with what’s happening.
  10. Changes in personality: getting upset when inappropriate, being scared and/or suspicious.

Risk Factors

Doctors and researchers are still trying to fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease. It seems people are affected differently, but there are some common factors:

  • Age — It most commonly affects people over age 65.
  • Genetics — Family history may play a role but it’s not a guarantee.
  • Lifestyle — Two studies have shown a connection to physical activity, a healthy diet, limited alcohol intake, and avoiding cigarettes to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The same lifestyle adjustments used to reduce the risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes may also slow or stop cognitive decline.
  • Race and ethnicityAfrican Americans and Hispanics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-Hispanic whites.

Treatments

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but early diagnosis can help slow the progression of the disease. There are drug and non-drug options to help treat symptoms and possibly improve quality of life. Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s will no longer be able to care for themselves.

Family members or friends caring for someone with Alzheimer’s often neglect their own health. It has been associated with:

  • Higher levels of depression and anxiety
  • Increased use of psychoactive medications
  • Worse self-reporting of health
  • A compromised immune system
  • Increased risk of early death

Care for Yourself and Your Aging Family Members

AltaMed is here for the lifetime of our patients — from pediatrics through senior care. We can also connect you with the appropriate social services to get you relief as a caregiver and find you programs to help your aging family member.

Our behavioral health team is available to talk to you about the pressures of caring for an older family member and help you with coping mechanisms. They can also connect you with a longer-term counselor should you need it. Call AltaMed at (877) 462-2582 to get stared with us today.

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Alzheimer’s Symptoms to Watch For