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Symptoms and Tests for Alzheimer’s disease

September 21st, 2010 · 4 Comments

Every senior citizen and their close family members should know what the symptoms are for Alzheimer‘s whether there is a family history of the disease or not. The disease itself is devastating to the victim and his or her family and the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the quicker medications can be prescribed to slow the onslaught. Not only that, but the family is able to buy more quality time with the person afflicted with the disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include more than merely losing your car keys once in awhile or forgetting where you put your glasses. Alzheimer’s victims suffer memory loss because of destroyed brain cells, and every aspect of the person’s life may be affected, including work, socialization and unusual or bizarre behavior.

The early stages

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, problems with concentration, memory and thinking clearly might signify that a test for the disease is in order. You might also notice that a person in the beginning stages needs a minimal amount of help with simple tasks and routines such as doing dishes or cooking a meal. He may get lost in areas that are familiar to him and confused about the day and time.

Later symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include trouble in making judgments, even for trivial decision-making or the victim’s speech may undergo change such as slurring or beginning sentences that are never finished. As the disease progresses and more brain cells die, these conditions will become worse.

No known cure as yet

Although there is yet no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and no single test that can pinpoint a diagnosis, there are early tests that can determine if this disease is the likely culprit for the symptoms or if there are other reasons for the memory and skill loss. Your health care provider will probably begin with simple tests that check your memory and other mental abilities. He or she will also want to know your medical history, including any injuries, surgeries or illnesses and how you are accomplishing certain daily tasks.

Medication history is also part of any medical examination that seeks to detect or reject the possibility of Alzheimer’s. Side effects from overdosing or combining certain medications with others are common causes of memory loss and confusion.

Obtain all the testing you can

A neurological exam may also be ordered by your health care provider. This will include tests for coordination, movement, walking and sensory functioning and may show problems with the nervous system that are causing thinking and behavior problems.

If you’re seeking assistance for yourself or a loved one and suspect that Alzheimer’s disease may be the cause of problems you’re experiencing, go to your primary health care provider first. There are currently no doctors who specialize specifically in the disease, but your primary provider should be able to order tests and refer you to specialists.

Whatever you do, don’t put off getting the tests you need to identify what is going on with your health. As noted above, an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia allows a person to get their affairs in order, spend quality time with family, and plan ahead for possible future care.

Tags: Conditions and Diseases · Dementia and Alzheimer's


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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nancy from Lifestation // Oct 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Having watched my own mother struggle with Alzheimers for 10 years, I completely agree with the importance of watching for symptoms early. I have seen too many people ignore those early signs until some drastic happens like the senior getting lost or having a car accident.

  • 2 Edie // Oct 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I think it is human nature to not really want to step up to the plate until it is too late. We allowed Mom to drive far longer than we should have because my Dad didn’t drive and the rest of us did not want to take over. Sad, but true.

  • 3 Nancy from Lifestation // Oct 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Agree: it is so hard to know that you need to take over but don’t want to. In my case, my Dad was the one who had the hardest time of all coming to grips with what was happening. His reaction was to downplay everything as being not “that bad”. I see many of my friends going down that same road now…

  • 4 Edie // Oct 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    My Dad has been more of the “what about me” type, especially after Mom developed dementia. It’s a good thing for him that my sister had moved in to help with Mom. After her death, my sister stayed two more years until she decided it was time to move on and I came in. He likes having someone around to take care of things he did not want to or would not want to do.

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