Do You Know the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Worried about memory loss? Everybody has occasional forgetfulness, but if it is impacting your daily life, it could be more serious. Are you afraid that you (or a loved one) may be showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease? Knowing the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia, is key. It’s also critical to understand that these symptoms don’t always indicate Alzheimer’s. In some cases, they are indicators of other treatable health issues.
Common Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Other Causes That Might be Behind Them
Blanking out on the name of someone you met once four years ago isn’t a big deal. Failing to recall your sister’s name is different. Similarly, missing appointments or forgetting new information can be signs of the disease. One woman thought that her husband wasn’t listening to her anymore because he constantly asked her the same questions over and over.
When it’s not Alzheimer’s: Memory loss can be due to many things that are NOT Alzheimer’s disease, including low blood flow, chronic inflammation, head trauma, exposure to environmental toxins, hormonal issues, insomnia, and more.
Problems with planning, problem-solving, and judgment
Early signs of Alzheimer’s can include forgetting to pay bills on time, difficulty handling complex projects, and showing bad judgment. For example, people may begin making poor decisions with money or fall for financial scams.
When it’s not Alzheimer’s: Hypertension, heart disease, and other issues can decrease blood flow to the brain’s prefrontal cortex—a region involved in planning, forethought, judgment—which can lead to problems with follow-through and impulsiveness.
People with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from their usual activities at work and in the community. They may appear less motivated to engage in hobbies or to take on new projects.
When it’s not Alzheimer’s: A lack of motivation and social withdrawal can be signs of depression.
Feeling confused about time or locations
Do you ever feel unsure about where you are or how you got there? Do you notice that you lose track of the seasons or aren’t aware of the date?
When it’s not Alzheimer’s: Some medications, including those commonly prescribed for anxiety, can cause a sense of confusion or brain fog. So can infections like Lyme disease; exposure to toxins like mold; or long-term abuse of alcohol, drugs, or marijuana.
Expressing anger, sadness, or anxiety.
People with Alzheimer’s can experience changes in their moods and personalities. Someone who has always been upbeat can become depressed or anxious. And go-with-the-flow types may become prone to angry outbursts. Any change in personality should be investigated.
When it’s not Alzheimer’s: Anxiety and depression that develops as we age can also be caused by neurohormonal imbalances—low testosterone, underactive thyroid, and the changes associated with menopause. Unexplained anger or aggression is a common sign of an untreated head injury or concussion.
How can you tell if it’s Alzheimer’s or something else?
If you’re noticing any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it is critical to get a comprehensive evaluation that looks at all of the factors—biological, psychological, social, and spiritual—that may be contributing to these issues.
Equally important is looking at your brain. Functional brain imaging studies using a technology called SPECT show that there are specific brain patterns associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Looking at the brain can help determine if symptoms are early signs of Alzheimer’s or if they are due to other treatable causes of memory problems.
At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation assessment to identify and address each of the potential causes of memory problems. This enables us to develop a personalized treatment plan to prevent or reverse these debilitating issues. Our Memory Rescue program has already helped many patients improve their memory.
Reach out today to speak with a specialist at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.