By Dr. Edward Pullen for Live Right Live Well
There are few medical problems more dreaded or feared than Alzheimer’s disease. And when someone comes to me expressing concern about an aging loved one’s mental state, I would love to be able to give clear-cut answers. But the truth is Alzheimer’s is what physicians call a diagnosis of exclusion. This means there is no definitive test that will tell us if it’s Alzheimer’s or not. Instead, we physicians make the diagnosis based on the signs and symptoms, and after ruling out all other possible diagnoses.
When it comes to spotting early Alzheimer’s symptoms, family and close friends are in a unique position. In a recent study from Washington University in St. Louis, researchers found that family and close friends may be better at identifying early Alzheimer’s than standard screening tests conducted in a doctor’s office. What this means is that if you suspect a problem, don’t blow it off. Your suspicions may very well be correct. Warning signs that may point to a possible problem include:
It’s important to remember
that Alzheimer’s is a slow, progressive problem that rarely shows up suddenly.
In addition, depression can mimic these symptoms and needs to be considered as
well. If concerns about a loved one have you wondering about Alzheimer’s, take
the first step and talk to a doctor. While treatments are only somewhat
effective in slowing progression of the disease, help is available.
Dr. Edward Pullen blogs frequently for Live Right Live Well. He is
a board-certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, Wash. In addition to practicing
full-service family medicine since 1983, he writes the medical blog DrPullen.com.
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