The Doctors column: Five early warning signs of Alzheimer’s
January 7, 2013
Think you’re too young to worry about Alzheimer’s? Most people – more than 5 million, according to latest counts – develop the disease after age 65. But 200,000 Americans have been diagnosed in their 40s and 50s. Alzheimer’s can’t be prevented or cured, but the sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can take steps to manage symptoms and live better for longer. Here are five warning signs.
You forget what you read. Memory loss is the most common sign, but not every lapse is symptomatic. Occasionally losing track of car keys can happen to anyone. But not remembering recently learned information, such as a conversation you just had, could be cause for concern. Other memory-related signs: forgetting important dates or asking for the same information over and over.
You call a tea kettle a water pot. Struggling more to find the right words to identify objects is an early sign of Alzheimer’s, as is difficulty expressing your thoughts or participating in conversations.
You run more red lights. Not because you’re in a rush, but because you misjudged the distance. Alzheimer’s may disrupt your brain’s ability to understand spatial relationships, interpret what you see and even sense of time and place.
You act differently. Perhaps you feel inexplicably anxious, confused or depressed, maybe you’re more irritable or aggressive, you may also become easily upset or fearful for no real reason. People with Alzheimer’s also start withdrawing from hobbies and once-loved social activities.
Your walk is wobbly. The science behind this is preliminary, but it’s backed by three new studies. Researchers found that changes in gait, such as more variable strides, may indicate a decline in cognitive function, and provide an early clue to Alzheimer’s.
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The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check http://www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.