Your Health: The warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - More than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and an estimated 11 million family, friends and unpaid caregivers are caring for them.
Knowing the signs of early dementia - also known as mild cognitive impairment or MCJ - is critical so patients and their families can get support as soon as possible. Here are steps families can take.
Sandy Vincent never imagined that she’d reach retirement age and then become a caregiver again for her 96-year-old mother, Margaret.
“She forgets. She’ll call me Sandy,” said Vincent. “Other times, I’m Irene, who was her cousin. Sometimes she’ll say to me, ‘How’s your mother?’”
Experts said the top three signs of MCJ are memory loss, especially new information, difficulty performing daily tasks and losing language skills.
Dr. Manisha Parulekar recommends that families help loved ones write down their routines.
“For some reason, the visual pathway seems to be staying longer with the patients,” said Parulekar. “They’re going in the bathroom, brush your teeth, breaking it down in simple steps and putting it on the post-it so that they understand it.”
If sentences become stilted, determine which words might be troublesome. List others they can use and practice. Losing language skills can lead to depression.
“They don’t remember the words and then they stop talking to people, then they start isolating themselves,” said Parulekar. “And then it’s sort of a downhill course.”
“There are times where, you know, she’ll say she’ll complete sentences and everything and makes sense,” said Vincent. “And then there are other times that I guess she can’t find the words.”
Research suggests that music may help patients with dementia. Musical memories are often preserved because key brain areas linked to music are relatively undamaged by the disease.
Until recently, Sandy’s mother would sing along to her favorite songs from the 1940′s which would allow her to practice her language skills.
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