On 21st September every year, people come together from all around the world to recognise and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease. With over 50 million people living with dementia worldwide, global research is vital to share learning and developments.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a physical disease which affects the brain, caused by the nerve cells within the brain to “disconnect” due to a build-up of protein. It is a progressive disease so over time more parts of the brain will suffer damage. Most people develop the condition after the age of 65 but there are currently 40,000 in the UK with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
What are the signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
For the majority of people, the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s Disease are memory problems which usually relate to more recent events, such as difficulty learning new information. As the disease progresses, the impact of Alzheimer’s affects day to day events such as remembering appointments, familiar places and struggling to remember close friend’s names.
In addition to this, people with Alzheimer’s may also develop difficulty with their speech and struggle to make decisions. They may experience difficulty seeing as their brain becomes confused about what they may be visualising. This can often lead to falls or other accidents. Further, it is common to suffer from depression and have a low mood and become withdrawn.
Why is it important to obtain an early diagnosis?
There are some medications that can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and can also ease symptoms and therefore an early diagnosis can have a significant impact. The drugs can also help with reducing anxiety and improve concentration and motivation.
In addition, if you have received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you may be offered counselling and other support to help you understand and come to terms with the condition. There are also a lots of equipment and adaptations that can help maintain your independence and keep you safe. Simple items such as attaching labels to keys and cupboard fronts can make such a difference and, in turn, improve confidence.
If you or a family member are displaying symptoms of dementia then seek help as soon as you can. Dementia is often put down to normal signs of ageing but this is not correct. An assessment with your GP can exclude other conditions and if dementia is suspected then you will undergo various tests over a period of time to ascertain the correct diagnosis.
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