There are many debilitating conditions that come with getting older, but one of the least understood is Alzheimer’s disease. It is a condition that has been defined by some pernicious myths even as it is conflated with similar conditions that induce dementia. In the case of Alzheimer’s, correct early diagnosis is key to maintaining the quality of life for the patient. With that in mind, here are a few of the differences between Alzheimer’s and other categories of dementia as well as the early signs that are indicators of the disease.

The Differences Between Alzheimers And Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are conditions that have many similarities, but they are clinically very different conditions. While both may be characterized by a loss of memory or degradation of cognitive function, dementia may be caused by a number of factors unrelated to Alzheimer’s. Such forms of dementia may be caused by other conditions such as strokes, thyroid disorders, or Parkinson’s disease. The early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are caused by a loss of neurons in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with both memory and learning. The causes of this neuron loss could be inflammation, oxidation, or an accumulation of proteins that are toxic to the brain cells.

Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s Can Be Tough To Spot

The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease may just be written off by the observer as normal signs of getting older. You must keep in mind that recording a combination of different Alzheimer’s symptoms is the best way to determine if Alzheimer’s is the cause rather than another condition. The first sign is memory disruptions, but everyone forgets or misremembers from time to time. When combined with other cognitive disruptions, such as difficulty in learning new things or solving simple problems, there may be more cause for concern. Other signs to look out for include difficulty performing leisure activities or hobbies without assistance, trouble understanding what time it is, or a mood that is wildly inconsistent with the current situation.

Your Loved One Is Likely In Denial

Avoidance behaviors may be the primary method of the patient to cope with the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. If they are having problems reading or writing, they may just stop doing either and make an excuse involving their eyesight or discomfort from arthritis. If they are having difficulty speaking or understanding people, they may become unusually socially withdrawn in an effort to avoid circumstances that have the potential to be embarrassing. If they are misplacing things or having difficulty finding their way to well-known places they may make excuses to explain why they can’t leave the house. If lost items are found in unusual places such as car keys in a pet bowl or their wallet in the refrigerator they may shrug it off as having dropped it while doing something else.

What You Can Do if You Spot Alzheimer’s Symptoms

If your loved one displays Alzheimer’s symptoms, have him/her evaluated by a physician. If a physician diagnoses Alzheimer’s for your parent or loved one in the Palos Verdes area, you may need in-home senior care. Contact us for an in-home consultation.

Here are a few more basic steps to take to help the one you love with Alzheimer’s:

  • Educate yourself about the disease – Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
  • Start planning for the future – financial, legal, long-term care.
  • Engage in mental activities with your loved one – puzzles, music (sometimes one of the longest lasting memories), memory games, etc.
  • Arrange for respite and/or regular in-home care
  • Create a support system – If possible, arrange with family members to share in the caregiving and decision-making. Find someone to talk to and/or join a support group such as the Early On-set Alzheimer’s/Dementia Support Group in Torrance.