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Go Purple in June for Alzheimer’s Awareness

June is Alzheimer’s & brain awareness month. Did you know that over 50 million people worldwide are living with some type of dementia? Alzheimer’s is probably the most well known. It is an irreversible brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Symptoms usually develop slowly and they can vary, which may lead some people to think that these are just a normal part of aging. Here are 10 early signs, compiled by the Alzheimer’s Association:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting important dates and events or relying on family members for things they used to handle on their own. (With normal aging, you can forget a name or appointment but will remember it later.)
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. This can show up as trouble following a recipe or keeping track of bills. (With normal aging, you may have an occasional error or two balancing your checkbook.)
  3. Difficulty completing daily tasks. This can be something like forgetting how to get to work or how to play a game. (With normal aging, you might need help using the DVR to record a TV show.)
  4. Confusion about times and places, losing track of dates, seasons and time. You may forget where you are or how you got there. (With normal aging, you may forget what day of the week it is but will figure it out later.)
  5. Vision problems that cause difficulty with reading, determining color and driving. (With normal aging, it may be related to cataracts.)
  6. Problems speaking or writing. Someone with Alzheimer’s may stop in the middle of a conversation and struggle with how to continue. They may also call things by the wrong name, such as calling a watch a “hand-clock”.
  7. Misplacing things. Sometimes, a person with Alzheimer’s may accuse others of stealing because they can’t remember where they put things. (With normal aging, you may lose things from time to time but will be able to retrace your steps to find them.)
  8. Poor judgment. You may notice a big change in decision-making, especially in how the person deals with money – sometimes giving away large sums to telemarketers. Or you may notice a lack of attention to personal hygiene.
  9. Withdrawal from social activities and hobbies. A person may have trouble keeping up with their favorite sports teams or remembering how to complete a project.
  10. Changes in mood or personality. Someone with Alzheimer’s can become easily upset. They can become confused, suspicious or anxious.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

Scientists believe it’s a combination of genetics, lifestyle and environment. We know that in the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease plaque forms and tangles neurons, which disrupts functions and eventually kills them off. New research suggests that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Other conditions that cause vascular damage, such as high blood pressure and stroke, can also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Help is Available

FOR YOU & YOUR LOVED ONES: There’s growing evidence that you can reduce your risk by adopting some healthy brain habits. These include reading and challenging your mind by learning something new. You can also ward off cognitive decline by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and quitting smoking. Early detection is also important. If you notice any of the warning signs, make an appointment with your doctor at Riverside Medical Clinic. An early diagnosis means early access to treatment that can help a person stay independent longer. There are new drugs available that can relieve symptoms and also clinical trials that may help lead to a cure. To make an appointment, call 951-683-6370.

FOR OUR FUTURE: The Alzheimer’s Association asks everyone to wear purple this month to raise awareness. Then on June 21, the longest day of the year, people all over the world will come together to fight Alzheimer’s with fundraisers. Look for the hashtags #EndAlz and #TheLongestDay to find ways you can help.

FOR CAREGIVERS: Are you caring for someone with Alzheimer’s? Riverside Medical Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Family and Caregiver Support Group provides a place for you to share information and receive encouragement as you discuss symptom management, stress and more. Call 951-682-2753 for up-to-date meeting information.