Most of us hope to live a good long life and have precious memories to comfort us in our old age. But for some - the past, present and future are unrecognizable and confusing. Alzheimer's is a disease that affects over five million Americans a year and experts say early detection is key.
Alzheimer’s is one of the main types of dementia. Experts say it is caused by an over concentration of two proteins in the brain. Early detection of the disease is helpful. It can improve access to medical and support services, give the patient the chance to make legal and care plans while they're still capable and may reduce health care costs by delaying placement in a nursing home. Experts say one of the first signs of Alzheimer's can be memory loss.
“Memory loss is not a normal part of the aging process. No part of dementia is part of the aging process. Just because we're 65 and older doesn't mean we should be losing stuff. So memory loss is a red flag.”
Experts says it's important for you to see your doctor if memory loss occurs. It may not be from Alzheimer’s. There are many other reasons for memory loss that can be cured.
“Memory loss can be everything from a thyroid condition, to lack of B-12 or depression. For elders, a big part of memory loss is too many medications not taken the right way.”
Alzheimer’s specialists say they are are seeing a lot more people with early diagnosis of the disease before the age of 65. Experts say no one knows the cause or the cure.
“Of the top 10 leading deaths in the U.S. Alzheimer’s is the only one where there's no cure. There's nothing to slow it down or prevent it.”
Age is the number one risk factor. Genetics is only 10-percent of the cause. Experts say lifestyle is key. They stress the importance of exercise, eating well and de-stressing.
“Keep the cholesterol down, keep the BMI, blood pressure and weight down, exercise.”
Other warning signs of Alzheimer's disease are challenges in planning or solving problems, confusion with time or place, difficulty completing familiar tasks and changes in mood or personality.