COULD IT BE ALZHEIMER'S?
Beyond Normal Memory Loss
Most of us will experience some level of cognitive decline as we get older. So when should we be worried about Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?
“As people live longer and longer, and we all experience Alzheimer Disease and other dementias among our friends and within our families, there is an understandable rise in concern about these diseases,” said Jeffrey Gross, MD, board certified neurologist with Associated Neurologists of Southern Connecticut. “First, it’s important to distinguish symptoms of the normal aging process from the onset of dementia.” Knowing what to expect as we get older can help to put our aging minds at ease.
Normal Age-Related Memory Loss
- Struggling with names or words on occasion
- Difficulty operating new appliances or automobiles
- Misplacing common items such as your keys or glasses
- Less recall with reading or details of a conversation
Generally speaking, normal age-related memory loss will not have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives or relationships. However, for those experiencing a form of dementia, and for the people who love or care for them, life is often markedly changed. “Dementia is a general term for a loss of previously achieved
cognitive functioning,” explained Dr. Gross. “Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias are associated with distinctive physical changes in brain tissue.” When does the normal aging process cross over into a disease state? Here are some potential red flags:
Potential Indicators of Dementia
- Getting lost or feeling disoriented in familiar places
- Repeating questions, stories or details within the same conversation
- Forgetting important appointments
- Neglecting important household chores
“Frequently, Alzheimer Disease can be diagnosed on the basis of a careful history, neurological examination and a few standard screening laboratory tests,” said Dr. Gross.
While currently no definitive treatment is available, a confirmed diagnosis of dementia can help patients and caregivers make appropriate plans for the future. “Clinical trials of new disease-treating medications are currently under way,” Dr. Gross added. “We are optimistic these will lead to effective treatments in the near future.”
“For those experiencing a form of dementia, and for the people who love or care for them, life is often markedly changed.”
Jeffrey Gross, MD
Neurologist / Fairfield, Connecticut
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