Alzheimer’s disease is the leading form of dementia and sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It causes progressive memory loss and other problems with cognition. In the early stages, trouble with memory may be minimal, but in the late stages, people will have difficulty in conversation and interacting in their environment. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans live with the disease and more than 11 million people provide unpaid care for people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. While Alzheimer’s is associated with increasing age, it affects younger populations too. An estimated 200,000 Americans younger than 65 have early-onset Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

There is still not a cure for Alzheimer’s, but medical professionals have identified ways to treat the symptoms and researchers continue to look for was ways to stop the disease from progressing. Identifying risk factors is important because early treatment can help delay the onset and improve life quality. The Alzheimer’s Association highlights the following 10 warning signs and symptoms and recommends scheduling an appointment with a health-care provider if you notice any of these:

1. Memory loss that gets in the way of activities of daily living

2. Difficulty or inability to problem solve or plan

3. Challenges in completing familiar tasks

4. Confusion with time or place

5. Difficulty with vision, balance, and spatial relationships

6. Trouble following conversations, finding words, and naming familiar objects

7. Misplacing things or an inability to retrace steps

8. Changes in judgment and decision-making

9. Withdrawing from social activities, including work, hobbies, and social events

10. Changes in mood and personality

To observe World Alzheimer’s Month, get involved, make a donation, or volunteer at an event. Contact your local Extension agent or Alzheimer’s Association representative for more information.

References: Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs

Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). Facts and figures. Retrieved: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures

Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). Understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia. Retrieved: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-demenia/what-is-alzheimers

Source: Amy F. Kostelic, Ph.D. Associate Extension Professor, Adult Development and Aging

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