Could It Be Alzheimer’s Disease?

After the age of 65, one in ten adults is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. However, for a few years, there are some new revolutionary technologies developed to detect and prevent the disease. Today, the pathologies of Alzheimer’s disease can be detected in an early stage thanks to a PET-scan. New research is possible, accompanied by hopes of developing new preventive therapies.

In the following TEDxUCLouvain video, Dr. Bernard Hanseeuw talks about brain imaging of early-diagnosed Alzheimer patients. Bernard Hanseeuw graduated as Medical Doctor from UCLouvain in 2007 and in 2011 defended his Ph.D. thesis on early Alzheimer’s brain imaging.

Well, let’s look at the following story: Twenty-five years with the same company. Eight years to go before retirement. And they were saying, Sorry we have to let you go. There are just too many problems affecting your work. Perhaps you should see a doctor. You might have a medical problem.

What Mike Crowe and his wife, Nona, of Penticton, B.C. didn’t realize was that Mike was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We thought it was just stress, burnout”

He wasn’t remembering deadlines and appointments at work. He was also making a lot of mistakes. At home, he was totally exhausted. He would just tune out, read the newspaper, watch television and not talk very much.

Nona says, “We thought it was just stress, burnout and we didn’t really talk about in those days, though that has changed for the better. ”

But Mike was actually showing signs of memory loss, difficulty performing tasks, mood changes and a loss of initiative — nearly half the symptoms listed in Is it Alzheimer Disease? 10 Warning Signs, a new publication from the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

The Warning Signs help families during a difficult time before diagnosis

The list helps families recognize the kinds of personality, behavior and cognitive changes that could signal Alzheimer’s disease. “Families told us that the period before the diagnosis was extremely difficult; they needed to know what the warning signs were and what they should do about them rather than finding excuses for memory slips,” says Linda LeDuc, the Alzheimer Society of Canada‘s Director of Support Services and Education.

“The Warning Signs brochure provides families with information to help them get through the very difficult period between noticing the symptoms and getting the diagnosis.”

Yvonne Schwartz of Bayside, N.S. could have used this five years ago. In just a second, Yvonne’s husband, Laurie, could switch from being even-tempered and calm to violently angry, a behavior that Yvonne found very unsettling.

Laurie began to avoid doing anything that required much thought. And his driving became erratic; he often didn’t know where he was going and I thought the disease was inherited. “I was terrified the last couple of years that he drove,” says Yvonne.

She didn’t have any idea that the personality change in Laurie, her mood swings, problems with thinking logically, and her disorientation issues were the first warning signs that she was developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. It affects more than a million Canadians and numerous families, yet many people don’t recognize the warning signs and if they do, they don’t know what to do about it.

Family members often think the person is depressed or showing normal signs of aging. But Alzheimer’s disease is much more than that.

“It reaches into people’s lives to affect their reasoning, memory, concentration, and use of language,” says Dr. Mary Gorman, a family doctor in Antigonish, N.S. “It affects people’s ability to interpret the world in space and in thought.”

Dr. Gorman is a consultant to the geriatric assessment and rehabilitation unit of St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, Antigonish, N.S. Over the past three years, she has noticed a change. “Doctors are becoming more familiar with the signs of dementia,” says Dr. Gorman, “so they’re sending patients earlier for assessment.”

 

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