Conditions

Memory Loss


Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in a different degree. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

1. MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

2. CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK OR AT LEISURE

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

4. CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5. TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Vision changes related to cataracts.

6. NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What’s a typical age-related change?

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7. MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

8. DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Making a bad decision once in a while.

9. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

10. CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

(Source Alzheimer’s Association)

Conditions

Stroke


A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability. (Source National Stroke Association)

Conditions

Incontinence


Urinary incontinence is leaking of urine that you can’t control. Many American men and women suffer from urinary incontinence. We don’t know for sure exactly how many. That’s because many people do not tell anyone about their symptoms. They may be embarrassed, or they may think nothing can be done. So they suffer in silence.

Urinary incontinence is not just a medical problem. It can affect emotional, psychological and social life. Many people who have urinary incontinence are afraid to do normal daily activities. They don’t want to be too far from a toilet. Urinary incontinence can keep people from enjoying life.

Many people think urinary incontinence is just part of getting older. But it’s not. And it can be managed or treated. (Source Urology Care Foundation)

Conditions

Dementia


Dementia is a group of diseases with symptoms, which affect the way people think and interact with each other. It can often be linked to a disease or damage done to the brain. Very often, short-time memory, mind, speech and motor skills are affected. Certain forms of dementia cause a change in the personality of the sufferer. A person suffering from dementia will lose certain skills and knowledge they already had. This is the main difference to other conditions affecting the mind. People who suffer from learning problems, or lower intelligence will never acquire certain skills, people suffering from dementia will lose skills they have acquired. Dementia is more common in older people. Certain forms of dementia can be treated, to some extent. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for between 50 and 60 percent of all cases. Other types include vascular dementia and lewy body dementia. (Source Wikipedia)

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Conditions

Alzheimers Disease


Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease, named after the doctor who first described it (Alois Alzheimer), is a physical disease that affects the brain. There are more than 520,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s disease. During the course of the disease, proteins build up in the brain to form structures called ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’. This leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. People with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of some important chemicals in their brain. These chemical messengers help to transmit signals around the brain. When there is a shortage of them, the signals are not transmitted as effectively. As discussed below, current treatments for Alzheimer’s disease can help boost the levels of chemical messengers in the brain, which can help with some of the symptoms. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. This means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, more symptoms develop. They also become more severe. (Source Alzheimer’s Disease Society)

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Conditions

Vascular Dementia


Inadequate blood flow can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in the body. The brain has one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels and is especially vulnerable.

In vascular dementia, changes in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly following strokes that block major brain blood vessels. Thinking problems also may begin as mild changes that worsen gradually as a result of multiple minor strokes or other conditions that affect smaller blood vessels, leading to cumulative damage. A growing number of experts prefer the term “vascular cognitive impairment (VCI)” to “vascular dementia” because they feel it better expresses the concept that vascular thinking changes can range from mild to severe.

Vascular brain changes often coexist with changes linked to other types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Several studies have found that vascular changes and other brain abnormalities may interact in ways that increase the likelihood of dementia diagnosis.

Vascular dementia is widely considered the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 20 to 30 percent of cases. Many experts believe that vascular dementia remains underdiagnosed — like Alzheimer’s disease — even though it’s recognized as common. (Source Alzheimer’s Association)

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Conditions

Dementia with Lewy Bodies


Lewy Body Dementia is a type of progressive dementia that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function because of abnormal microscopic deposits that damage brain cells over time.

Most experts estimate that dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, accounting for 10 to 25 percent of cases.

The hallmark brain abnormalities linked to Lewy Body Dementia are named after Frederick H. Lewy, M.D., the neurologist who discovered them while working in Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s laboratory during the early 1900s. Alpha-synuclein protein, the chief component of Lewy bodies, is found widely in the brain, but its normal function isn’t yet known.

Lewy bodies are also found in other brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Many people with Parkinson’s eventually develop problems with thinking and reasoning, and many people with Lewy Body Dementia experience movement symptoms, such as hunched posture, rigid muscles, a shuffling walk and trouble initiating movement.

This overlap in symptoms and other evidence suggest that Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia may be linked to the same underlying abnormalities in how the brain processes the protein alpha-synuclein. Many people with both Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s dementia also have plaques and tangles — hallmark brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease. (Source Alzheimer’s Association)

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Conditions

Parkinson's Disease


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms.

Parkinson’s Disease involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson’s Disease primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s Disease progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

The specific group of symptoms that an individual experiences varies from person to person. Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Scientists are also exploring the idea that loss of cells in other areas of the brain and body contribute to Parkinson’s. For example, researchers have discovered that the hallmark sign of Parkinson’s disease — clumps of a protein alpha-synuclein, which are also called Lewy Bodies — are found not only in the mid-brain but also in the brain stem and the olfactory bulb.

These areas of the brain correlate to nonmotor functions such as sense of smell and sleep regulation. The presence of Lewy bodies in these areas could explain the nonmotor symptoms experienced by some people with PD before any motor sign of the disease appears. The intestines also have dopamine cells that degenerate in Parkinson’s Disease, and this may be important in the gastrointestinal symptoms that are part of the disease. (Source – Parkinson’s Disease Foundation)

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Conditions

Frontotemporal Dementia


Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or frontotemporal degenerations refers to a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes (the areas behind your forehead) or its temporal lobes (the regions behind your ears).

The nerve cell damage caused by frontotemporal dementia leads to loss of function in these brain regions, which variably cause deterioration in behavior and personality, language disturbances, or alterations in muscle or motor functions.

There are a number of different diseases that cause frontotemporal degenerations. The two most prominent are 1. a group of brain disorders involving the protein tau and 2. a group of brain disorders involving the protein called TDP43. For reasons that are not yet known, these two groups have a preference for the frontal and temporal lobes that cause dementia. (Source Alzheimer’s Association)

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Conditions

Alcohol Related Dementia


Alcohol related dementia is, as the name suggests, a form of dementia related to the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions. Korsakoff’s syndrome and Wernicke/Korsakoff syndrome are particular forms of alcohol related brain injury which may be related to alcohol related dementia.

What is the cause of alcohol related dementia?

It is currently unclear as to whether alcohol has a direct toxic effect on the brain cells, or whether the damage is due to lack of thiamine, vitamin B1.Nutritional problems, which often accompany consistent or episodic heavy use of alcohol, are thought to be contributing factors. Key parts of the brain may suffer damage through vitamin deficiencies, particularly marked levels of thiamine deficiency and the direct effect that alcohol has on the absorption and use of thiamine.

What are the symptoms of alcohol related dementia?

This can vary from person to person, but generally symptoms will include:

Impaired ability to learn things Personality changes Problems with memory Difficulty with clear and logical thinking on tasks which require planning, organising, common sense judgement and social skills Problems with balance Decreased initiative and spontaneity.

Generally skills learned earlier in life and old habits such as language and gestures tend to be relatively unaffected.

Who gets alcohol related dementia?

Anyone who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol over a period of years may get alcohol related dementia. Males who drink more than six standard alcoholic drinks a day, and women who drink more than four, seem to be at increased risk of developing alcohol related dementia. The risk clearly increases for people who drink high levels of alcohol on a regular basis. The National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia recommends that for health reasons related to the prevention of brain and liver damage adult males should drink no more than four standard drinks per day and adult females should drink no more than two standard drinks per day.

Some people who drink at high levels do not develop alcohol related dementia, but it is not currently possible to understand and predict who will and who won’t develop alcohol related dementia. Some people who develop alcohol related dementia might also show some degree of recovery over time if they reduce alcohol intake to safe levels or abstain from alcohol and maintain good health.Alcohol related dementia can affect both men and women of any age. (Source Alzheimer’s Australia)