World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on September 21 every year and the aim of the day is to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and also challenge the stigma surrounding it. According to the World Health Organization, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases. In Alzheimer’s, changes in the brain take place that lead to deposits of certain proteins. The disease causes the brain to shrink and the brain cells eventually die, affecting a person’s ability to independently function. Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behaviour and social skills. Ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day, Dr Sanjay Saxena, Senior Director & HOD, Neurosciences, Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj (New Delhi), shares the early warning signs of the disease and talks about the importance of timely diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s Day: Early Sings Of The Disease
Dr Sanjay Saxena says that the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can vary from person to person and it usually starts after the age of 60. He lists some common indicators, which include:
1. Memory Loss: This is often the most recognisable symptom. People may forget important dates or events and rely on memory aids.
2. Difficulty With Familiar Tasks: Tasks that were once routine, like cooking or paying bills, may become challenging.
3. Language Problems: People may struggle to find the right words or follow a conversation, making communication difficult.
4. Disorientation: Individuals may get lost in familiar places or lose track of time.
5. Poor Judgment: Decision-making can be impaired, leading to bad financial or personal choices.
6. Changes In Mood and Behaviour: Mood swings, depression, or personality changes can occur.
7. Difficulty Planning and Problem Solving: Complex tasks, like planning a meal or managing finances, become increasingly problematic.
8. Withdrawal From Social Activities: People with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from hobbies, work, or social activities they once enjoyed.
9. Misplacing Things: Frequently losing items and struggling to retrace steps can be a sign.
10. Changes in Visual Perception: Difficulty reading, judging distance, or identifying colours and contrast.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Why Timely Diagnosis Is Important
Dr Sanjay Saxena says that it’s important to watch out for symptoms and seek early treatment. He mentions how early diagnosis helps, read on:
Early Intervention: Diagnosing Alzheimer’s early allows for early intervention and the initiation of treatments that can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.
Planning: It enables individuals and their families to plan for the future, including legal and financial matters, caregiving, and living arrangements.
Access To Support: Early diagnosis connects patients and their families with support services, such as Alzheimer’s associations, support groups, and counselling.
Clinical Trials: Early diagnosis may qualify individuals for participation in clinical trials for potential treatments and therapies.
“If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these warning signs, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. Early detection can make a significant difference in managing Alzheimer’s disease,” shares Dr Sanjay Saxena.