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November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. While early onset Alzheimer’s can occur in people in their 40s and 50s, the majority of those with the disease are 65 or older. The major risk factors are age, family history, and genetics.
 
Is it aging or Alzheimer’s?
 
It’s not uncommon to have occasional memory lapses as we age, such as forgetting an appointment or where you put your car keys. In Alzheimer’s the symptoms gradually progress to the point where they interfere with normal functioning and can affect the ability to live independently. Symptoms include:
 
  • Memory loss that interferes with daily life, especially loss of information recently learned, or repeatedly asking the same question
  • Difficulty in following a plan or completing common tasks, such as following a recipe or paying household bills
  • Difficulty with familiar tasks, such as driving to a known location or using an appliance
  • Problems with visual perception unrelated to cataracts or other age-related vision changes
  • Confusion about dates, times, and places
  • Losing things or placing items in strange places
  • Decreased judgment that can result in making poor choices or falling prey to financial schemes often aimed at the elderly
  • Mood swings, personality changes, or withdrawal from normal activities
 
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatment can help alleviate the symptoms and improve quality of life. Because the loss of cognitive ability may prevent the patient from recognizing the symptoms, it’s often up to family members to suggest seeing a doctor. If you’re concerned about yourself or a family member, talk to your doctor. While the progress of the disease can’t be stopped, early intervention and drug and non-drug treatments can help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
 
For more information visit The Alzheimer’s Association.