Tag Archives: alzheimers disease

Alzheimer’s: Warning signs, treatment and support

During the month of November, which serves as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Beaumont will publish a three-part series on Alzheimer’s and its impact on the patient as well as caregivers and the family. Many diseases affect the patient and their family, but few take as emotional a toll as Alzheimer’s. Read part one in the series: Understanding the Impact of Alzheimer’s.

It’s estimated that by 2050 nearly 14 million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s, putting an emotional and economic toll on patients and caregivers. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s and there’s no way to reverse its effects, but with early diagnosis and proper treatment and medication, it is possible to slow the damage done by the disease. It’s important to read the warning signs and seek out treatment and support to fight Alzheimer’s early on.

Alzheimer's warning signsSymptoms of Alzheimer’s can be subtle, but over time they get worse. Common warning signs of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Frequently forgetting newly learned information
  • Difficulty concentrating and resolving problems
  • Difficulty doing things they’ve always known, like operating electronics or navigating directions
  • Obvious confusion about dates, time of day or even year
  • Problems recognizing colors
  • Problems reading
  • Difficulty with speech or communication
  • Becoming suddenly careless with finances or personal hygiene
  • Emotional outbursts or inappropriate reactions in certain situations

A doctor can perform tests to determine mental status and check for warning signs and symptoms. A physical exam, coupled with a neurological exam, MRI scan of the brain or PET scan can also help determine if Alzheimer’s is present and how advanced the disease might be.

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Effects of rise in Alzheimer’s seen first-hand

by Amita Pai, M.D., geriatric medicine, Assistant Professor, Oakland University-William Beaumont School of Medicine

grandchildA new government funded report from Rush University Institute of Healthy Aging published in the journal Neurology has brought much needed focus and attention on Alzheimer’s disease.  The study, which included new census data, reports that the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s disease will almost triple by 2050, straining the health care system and taxing the health of caregivers.

As a geriatrician, I wasn’t surprised by this new study as it validated what I was seeing in my practice at the Beaumont Geriatric Clinic and what advocacy groups had been forecasting.  The increasing incidence is largely due to the aging “baby-boomer” population.  Although the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age, the disease is not a part of normal aging.

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