This week we are highlighting the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and whether our loved one has the disease or they are merely showing signs of old age. Today we want to take a look at the importance of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Whenever you have concerns about your loved one’s loss of memory or changes in behavior, first of all you should consult their primary care physician for an evaluation.
The earlier someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the sooner they can receive early intervention or at least gain time to make their own decisions as to their future.
Benefit from early treatment
Early diagnosis allows people to benefit from treatment options that can help prevent further complications of the disease. Some symptoms that appear to be dementia can be reduced or reversed if they are treatable. For example, your loved one could be struggling with depression, thyroid problems or drug interactions and still appear to have symptoms suggesting dementia or Alzheimer’s. Early intervention by running tests and prescribing the correct drugs can reverse their symptoms. Sometimes it is as easy as taking certain vitamins.
If they are diagnosed with dementia, there are drugs available that can lessen the symptoms and allow them a quality of life they would not have received if they had not seen a doctor.
Maximize present quality of life
When someone receives the diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, they are saddened, but also relieved that they now know what is causing their symptoms. Although Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms and how it affects families has been in the forefront through news media, magazine articles and books for a number of years, many people are still bewildered about what is going to take place in the future. Knowing what is causing their symptoms can allow them to live their life to the fullest that they at the present time.
When my sister was caring for our mother, well after Mom’s diagnosis of TIA dementia, but while she still was very aware of her surroundings, they went on a road trip. My sister packed up the van, got Mom and Dad settled in, and took off for a two week trip from our home town in Michigan to Colorado and Wyoming.
Mom had a blast. We have a beautiful picture of her with camera in hand, standing on an overlook in what appears to be the Badlands. She has a big grin on her face as she enjoys the view. This is well after she couldn’t remember most people’s names. She and Dad had been avid travelers throughout the United States and several trips overseas. We knew that somewhere deep inside of her, she understood and appreciated the experience.
Plan for the future
Receiving an early diagnosis gives them time to let their loved ones know what they want for their future. Although the discussions can be difficult, it is important that family members sit down together and discuss their options. Now is the time to make decisions on how they can maximize their quality of life in their remaining time. Where will they live, who will care for them, what are their financial concerns, and what are their desires for their ultimate resting place are all important topics to discuss as a family.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important in monitoring a loved one’s disease and for their future health and well being. They can benefit from their treatment regimen, maximize their present lifestyle for as long as possible, and plan for their future. Our next article will suggest further appointments they should make in their walk through Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis and treatment.