Learning that your loved one may experience Alzheimer’s disease can be the start of a long and painful journey.
As a brain disorder that progressively worsens memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating condition that an affected individual will have to endure for the rest of their life. This is why, in order to be able to best prepare for an affected individual’s treatment and long-term care, it is especially crucial for everyone to be able to watch and identify potential signs that can point to the disease.
Here are some important details about Alzheimer’s disease:
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is known to be the most common form of dementia, which is the general term for disorders that involve the loss of memory and other cognitive skills that interfere with one’s daily life. Affecting parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language, the disease initially manifests as mild memory loss before eventually leading to an affected individual forgetting not only how to carry a conversation but also how to react to their environment.
Who is at risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease typically starts to develop in adults aged 65 and over. However, although not as common, younger people may also be at risk of an early onset of the disease.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
At its earlier stages, Alzheimer’s disease may manifest in mild forms of memory loss. Some signs and symptoms may include getting lost in familiar places; difficulty in completing familiar tasks; repeating questions; decreased or poor judgment; changes in mood, personality, or behavior; confusion with time or place; misplacing things; and problems with speaking and writing.
Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, affected individuals will continue to develop worsening dementia symptoms and eventually lose their ability to interact with external stimuli. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives from 4–8 years after diagnosis but can live up to 20 years, depending on other factors.
How can Alzheimer’s disease be diagnosed?
Although there is no single diagnostic test to determine if a person has Alzheimer’s disease, physicians employ a variety of approaches and tools to aid in the diagnosis. These may involve a review of one’s medical history; a physical exam; a neurological exam; cognitive, functioning, and behavioral tests; depression screens; and mood assessments.
Alzheimer’s disease can also be detected before symptoms manifest. Early detection of Alzheimer’s may be achieved through the help of PET/CT scans, neuroimaging, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests, and blood tests that reveal Alzheimer-related biomarkers.
How can Alzheimer’s disease be treated?
There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments that may aid in maintaining brain health, managing behavioral symptoms, slowing the progression of the disease, and improving the affected individual’s quality of life. In recent years, drugs such as aducanumab and lecanemab, for example, have shown promise in reducing cognitive decline in individuals with early Alzheimer’s.
That said, it is also important to properly prepare a strong support and caregiving system to help mitigate disruptions to the affected person’s day-to-day life. Developing routines that keep the affected individual sharp and stimulated, as well as implementing lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating, and sleeping well, may also contribute to improve brain health and slow its deterioration.
Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC) offers PET/CT procedures that aid in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease through the use of powerful imaging technology. For inquiries and appointments, contact CSMC at (02) 8727-0001, local 3998, or visit the PET/CT department located on the ground floor of the CSMC Main Hospital Building.
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Cardinal Santos Medical Center. (2023, January 17). 5 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s. Facebook. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://www.facebook.com/CardinalSantos/photos/
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