Accounting for two-third of cases in older people, Alzheimer’s disease occurs when two proteins – amyloid and tau – build up in the brain. This isn’t a normal part of ageing, and the proteins in effect cause brain damage. The Alzheimer’s Society identified the earliest warning sign of the condition that is “often one of the first changes”. This is a “loss of interest and enjoyment in day-to-day activities”, which could be mistaken for depression.
The reason for this is that depression shares the same symptom, which is why it’s helpful to be aware of the other signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
This includes memory problems – one of the most recognised signs of dementia.
Examples of memory loss include forgetting recent events, names and faces.
Behaviours may become repetitive, and a person with the brain disease may ask the same questions over and over again in short periods of time.
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Of course, if this has always been a characteristic of the person, then there’s less cause for concern.
It’s mostly when this becomes a new occurrence that it can be a telling sign of dementia.
This is true of misplacing items, more so if the person starts putting things in odd places.
For example, the television remote stored in a microwave would ring alarm bells.
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease might become confused about the date or time of day.
This would be more worrisome if the person believes it’s a few years before 2021, rather than someone mistaking a Saturday for Sunday.
If the person was highly articulate then suddenly finds it difficult to remember the right words for objects, then this may be concerning.
As the disease develops, which it will do as it’s a progressive condition, then symptoms will become more noticeable.
For example, carrying out day-to-day tasks become more difficult, such as using a kettle.
Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will not be able to recognise familiar faces.
“Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is important,” said the charity. “It means you can get the right support and treatments.”
A memory clinic can conduct specialised tests to help determine if dementia is present.
Brain scans and blood tests may be offered too if needs be, so a diagnosis can be made.
Medications can be offered to help people with mild to moderate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which could be one of the following:
All these drugs work in similar ways, but some people may respond to one drug better than another.
They work by increasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain that help “messages to travel around the brain”.
“These messages are vital to the way we move, think and remember,” explained the charity.
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