alzheimer’s is a form of dementia where brain cells degenerate and die, causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Most people get it after age 65; but up to 5% (or roughly 200,000 Americans) start suffering early, in their 40s and 50s. The symptoms sneak up slowly, but eventually become worse and start to interfere with your quality of life. Here are 9 warning signs of this lady killer. Though there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can take steps to slow its progression, and live better for longer.
1. Not recalling recently learned information could be cause for concern because Alzheimer’s first attacks the part of the brain that stores short-term memory. Other memory lapses to note: forgetting significant dates and events; asking for the same information over and over; and over-relying on your cell phone’s reminder beeps to get you through your to-dos.
2. You lose track of numbers. Regular tasks quickly become frustrating and seem to take forever. As Alzheimer’s develops, more and more plaques and tangles – two abnormal structures that damage and kill nerve cells – form in the brain area involved in thinking and planning. You get confused more easily, you have trouble handling money or dealing with numbers, and it gets tougher to organize your thoughts.
3. You get flustered by routine activities. Pay attention if those moments happen often – particularly with the everyday things.
4. You hit the brakes hard at most traffic lights. Alzheimer’s may disrupt your brain’s ability to judge spatial relationships, skew your understanding of what you see, and even mess with your sense of time and place.
5. You find your “lost” cell phone in whatever other weird spot you can’t remember putting it in. Misplacing things more and more frequently and retracing your steps to find the lost items occurs less and less.
6. You call a watch a hand clock. Struggling with words when you didn’t before indicates Alzheimer’s, as does having trouble expressing your thoughts and following or taking part in a conversation.
7. Poor judgment and ineffective decision-making are all signs your brain function is compromised.
8. You become less social. You may become easily upset, somewhat depressed, and anxious or fearful for no specific reason. Alzheimer’s affects how you interact with people and can cause changes in your mood and personality.
9. You have diabetes. That doubles your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Insulin resistance and high blood sugar may lead to complications that damage brain cells as well as the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to your brain, raising your risk of Alzheimer’s. Other conditions that may have the same effect include high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
read article on Yahoo! Shine by the Editors of Prevention: Would you recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s?
* read my past post about alzheimer’s symptoms