As we get older, it’s normal to start misplacing things and forgetting peoples names. But for some people, this can mark the start of Alzheimer’s.
all about alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse over the years. Alzheimer’s usually starts with forgetfulness, but as it progresses, you can lose words, become disorientated and forget how to do everyday tasks like bathing and being able to manage finances. Personalities also change and people can become despondent, get frustrated, have mood swings, and experience paranoia.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s can vary from person to person, depending on the parts of the brain that are affected. People who are close to you and see you a lot usually notice that you repeat questions, and become unable to organise or learn new things. The most common symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks like preparing meals or making a phone call
- Problems with language, can’t find the word they want
- Becoming disorientated, not knowing where they are or how to get home
- Poor judgement – dressing inappropriately or giving away money or possessions to strangers
- Problems with numbers, dates and time
- Misplacing things and putting things in odd places
- Mood swings for no apparent reason
- Change in personality, becoming confused, suspicious, fearful or dependant on a family member
- Loss of initiative, sleeping for long periods, or sitting in front of the TV for hours
As we age, our risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases. 1 in 20 people over 65 and 1 in 5 people over 80 will develop Alzheimer’s.
We don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s. But you are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s if:
- A parent or sibling has Alzheimer’s
- You’ve had major head injuries in the past
- You have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol
- You’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time
The first step is to rule out other brain diseases with a physical exam and blood tests.
A cognition test will test your memory, thinking, and language skills.
Depending on the outcome, you might be referred to a specialist and sent for a CT or MRI brain scan to look for plaque build up on the brain, an indication of Alzheimer’s.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, there are ways to help delay progression of the disease. These include both lifestyle factors and prescription drugs.
- SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY – Your doctor can prescribe medication to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. It is essential to get help as soon as Alzheimer’s begins.
- SLEEP WELL – This helps clear out the protein build up (plaque) in the brain so it functions better.
- EAT WELL – Nutrient rich foods and a low sugar diet reduce brain inflammation.
- VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS – Inclusion of certain herbs and vitamins in your diet.
- NO HEAVY METALS – No one should have contact with lead and mercury.
There are special care facilities for people with advanced Alzheimer’s.
For detailed information and support go to Alzheimers.org.nz.