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Recognising Early Warning Signs And The Crucial Role Of Timely Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, Experts Pitch In – News18

Alzheimer’s differs from other geriatric diseases in the sense that its early symptoms are often confused with those of old age and its onset is often missed. (Representative image/Shutterstock)

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.

It’s important to be mindful of the early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease. These indicators may include difficulty keeping track of dates or not being aware of one’s current location, taking more time to complete everyday tasks, repeating questions or forgetting newly acquired information, experiencing difficulty managing finances and paying bills, and losing enthusiasm for once enjoyable activities. Identifying these signs in their early stages is imperative, as it allows for prompt corrective actions to be taken to potentially slow down the progression of the disease.

Dr Sadiq Pathan, Consultant – -Neurologist, Sahyadri Super Speciality Hospital, Hadapsar, Pune, says, “A timely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s offers a multitude of benefits. It provides a window of opportunity for early intervention, enabling the implementation of coordinated care plans that can greatly enhance a patient’s quality of life. Moreover, it facilitates better management of symptoms, ensuring that patients receive the support and treatment they need. This not only safeguards patient safety but also results in significant cost savings, as early diagnosis can reduce the burden of long-term care and hospitalisations. Additionally, it can delay the need for institutionalisation, allowing individuals to maintain their independence for longer.”

“To initiate the diagnostic process, individuals showing potential signs of Alzheimer’s should seek consultation at a memory clinic as soon as possible. Here, a doctor will conduct a comprehensive assessment by interacting with the patient and consulting with family members to gather essential information. Depending on the individual’s specific case, a battery of neuropsychological tests and cognitive skill assessments will be administered to evaluate cognitive function. In some cases, the neurologist may recommend routine blood tests or brain scans to rule out other underlying conditions that may mimic Alzheimer’s symptoms,” he further added.

Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can vary from person to person, it usually starts after the age of 60.

  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.

Timely diagnosis is crucial for several reasons:

  1. 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.
  2. Planning: It enables individuals and their families to plan for the future, including legal and financial matters, caregiving, and living arrangements.
  3. Access to Support: Early diagnosis connects patients and their families with support services, such as Alzheimer’s associations, support groups, and counselling.
  4. Clinical Trials:Early diagnosis may qualify individuals for participation in clinical trials for potential treatments and therapies.
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