Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease: Recognizing Warning Signs – by Sanjiv Sharma, MD, CPI
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s the most common cause of dementia among older adults and presents a significant challenge for both individuals and their families. Early detection is crucial for managing the disease and improving the quality of life for those affected.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex brain disorder characterized by the gradual deterioration of cognitive functions, primarily memory and thinking skills. This deterioration results from the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, specifically beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which interfere with normal cellular function.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
Several factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease:
- Age: The risk of Alzheimer’s increases with age, with most cases occurring in individuals over 65.
- Family History: A family history of Alzheimer’s may indicate a genetic predisposition to the disease.
- Genetics: Specific genes, like APOE epsilon 4, are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Cardiovascular Health: Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol may increase the risk.
- Head Trauma: Past head injuries, especially those involving loss of consciousness, can be a risk factor.
- Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, lack of physical activity, and poor diet can contribute to Alzheimer’s risk.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Recognizing the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease is essential for early diagnosis and intervention. These signs may be subtle at first but tend to worsen over time. If you or a loved one experience any of the following, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional:
- Memory Loss: Forgetfulness that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting recent conversations or important dates.
- Difficulty Solving Problems: Trouble with problem-solving, planning, or completing familiar tasks.
- Confusion with Time or Place: Losing track of dates, seasons, or the passage of time. Getting disoriented in familiar places.
- Trouble with Words: Struggling to find the right words or following or joining a conversation.
- Misplacing Items: Putting things in unusual places and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Decreased Judgment: Making poor decisions in terms of personal hygiene, finances, or safety.
- Withdrawal from Activities: Losing interest in hobbies, work, or social activities.
- Mood and Personality Changes: Exhibiting mood swings, becoming easily upset, anxious, or confused.
- Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks: Difficulty performing tasks that were once routine, like cooking a meal or managing finances.
- Visual and Spatial Issues: Problems with reading, judging distances, or determining color or contrast, which may lead to difficulty driving.
Alzheimer’s disease is a challenging condition that can have a profound impact on individuals and their families. While there is no cure, early detection and intervention can help manage symptoms and improve the overall quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the warning signs mentioned above, seek medical attention promptly. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying mentally and socially active, and managing chronic conditions can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’d like more information on how CenExel may assist you or your family with a free memory evaluation, caregiver support, or entrance into an Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia clinical trial, please visit www.CenExel.com.
Sanjiv Sharma, MD, CPI; Founder and PI
CenExel AMRI – 9 Mule Road, Suite E9, Toms River, NJ 08755
Dr. Sharma has been involved in memory research since 2009. In 2013, he started AMRI as the principal investigator. Since then he has worked on over 35 memory related protocols. Dr. Sharma has his board certification in internal medicine as well as geriatric medicine. He is passionate about caring for patients and families who are worried about memory loss. Dr. Sharma graduated from Mahatma Gandhi Medical Memorial College in Jamshedpur, India and completed his residency in internal medicine at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. In 2000, Dr. Sharma opened his private practice, Geriatric Medical Center, in Toms River, New Jersey.