What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder that leads to a gradual loss of memory with time. Initially, it may only cause minor forgetfulness like forgetting names of people, familiar places, directions followed by anxiety and confusion. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and is mostly seen in aged people. The disease limits one’s social interaction and gets extremely severe in its final stages.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. If you notice any of them, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same questions over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
New problems with words in speaking or writing
People living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease
An important part of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease includes being able to explain your symptoms, as well as perspective from a close family member or friend about symptoms and their impact on daily life.
Physical and neurological exam
doctor will perform a physical exam and likely assess overall neurological health by testing the following:
- Muscle tone and strength
- Ability to get up from a chair and walk across the room
- Sense of sight and hearing
Images of the brain are now used chiefly to pinpoint visible abnormalities related to conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease — such as strokes, trauma or tumors — that may cause cognitive change. New imaging applications — currently used primarily in major medical centers or in clinical trials — may enable doctors to detect specific brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s.
Imaging of brain structures include the following:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of the brain. While they may show brain shrinkage of brain regions associated with Alzheimer’s disease, MRI scans also rule out other conditions. An MRI is generally preferred to a CT scan for the evaluation of dementia.
- Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan, a specialized X-ray technology, produces cross-sectional images (slices) of your brain. It’s usually used to rule out tumors, strokes and head injuries.