Why is it important to get Alzheimer's disease diagnosed early?
It’s not completely clear what causes Alzheimer’s disease but from what we can tell, no one is completely safe from the disease. Even very famous people succumb to it despite having access to the best resources and care.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is important for several reasons. First, it allows for earlier intervention and treatment, which can help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life for the individual. Early diagnosis also allows for better planning for the future, including financial and legal planning, and can facilitate discussions about end-of-life care. Additionally, early diagnosis can help with the identification and management of other potential contributing factors, such as depression or other medical conditions. Furthermore, early diagnosis can help people with Alzheimer's disease and their families access resources and support, such as support groups and care facilities.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
The early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can vary from person to person, but some common early signs include:
Memory loss, particularly difficulty remembering recent events or conversations.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as cooking a meal or driving to a familiar location.
Trouble with language, such as difficulty finding the right word or following a conversation.
Disorientation in time and place, such as getting lost in familiar surroundings.
Poor judgment and decision making, such as giving away large sums of money or neglecting personal hygiene.
Mood changes, such as depression or anxiety.
Changes in personality, such as becoming more withdrawn or suspicious.
It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it's important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What to do if you think you or a loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease
If you are experiencing a combination of these symptoms, you should schedule a visit with a neurologist. Neurologists can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages and they can work with the patient and their family to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
This may include medications to slow the progression of the disease, such as cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine. These medications can help improve memory and thinking, and delay the development of the symptoms. In addition to pharmacological treatments, neurologists may also recommend non-pharmacological interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, and supportive therapies to help patients cope with the disease.
Neurologists also provide ongoing care and management of the disease, including monitoring the patient's condition, adjusting medications as needed, and providing education and support to the patient and their family. They can also coordinate care with other healthcare providers, such as primary care physicians, geriatricians, and home health agencies, to provide the best possible care for Alzheimer's patients.