Nearly everyone has heard of Alzheimer’s Disease, but few understand what it is or what they can do about it. When aging relatives start experiencing memory loss and mild behavior change, family members assume it’s a normal part of aging. They could be missing out on the opportunity to slow the progress of a degenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a brain disease that results in memory loss, poor reasoning skills, and behavioral changes. Even though it’s incurable, the progress of the disease can be slowed if caught early.
Dementia and memory loss shouldn’t be ignored. It may be a sign of AD. If you catch it early, you could significantly impact the quality of life as the disease progresses.
Benefits of Early Detection
So often, we avoid getting bad news because we’re afraid of how our lives will change. With AD, catching it early will allow you to gather support, discuss treatment to slow memory decline, and create a plan for handling the progress of the disease.
In some cases, medications that slow decline of AD may be effective. Conversely, certain prescriptions may exacerbate AD so a doctor should review prescription lists and determine how to manage comorbid conditions.
Support groups and family counselors can help create plans that address safety concerns while encouraging as much independence as possible. As the disease progresses, family members will likely notice behavior changes and a counselor can help everyone decide how to handle those changes.
Finally, catching AD early allows an individual to make important financial and legal decisions while they still can.
Why Alzheimer’s Disease Often Goes Undetected
There’s a prevailing myth that AD is an extreme form of dementia and a normal part of growing old. Few people understand it’s a fatal disease. For this reason, early signs of AD are often ignored or dismissed.
Physicians may have a hard time detecting AD if they haven’t established a baseline for a person’s normal cognitive functioning. Their medical records may not be extensive enough for early Alzheimer’s symptoms to trigger an alert.
How to Detect Alzheimer’s in the Early Stages
To recognize changes in cognitive abilities, a physician needs to establish a cognitive baseline. Deterioration in cognitive abilities can be a sign of many illnesses,so establishing a baseline will help detect problems in the early stages.
The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 symptoms that could indicate AD. Becoming familiar with the symptoms will help you differentiate between the customary decline that happens with age and a brain disease.
New medical research suggests a new artificial intelligence can use MRI to detect AD before symptoms appear. Previously, MRI could be used to detect tissue loss that accompanies AD. The newer technology allows MRI to detect the functional changes in the brain that occur before tissue loss.
As our understanding of the brain evolves, families will benefit from the ability to detect brain diseases in early stages. For the technology to be effective, doctors and patients need to understand the importance of catching AD early and the possibilities for treatment.