It is June, which means that it is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. For the duration of this month, the Alzheimer’s Association asks the public to take what they call the Purple Pledge.
Being the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement, there are a number of options to show your support. Social media is a great tool to raise awareness, so be sure to use “#ENDALZ” to join the conversation.
Welcome to the BrainTest® Alzheimer’s Awareness Series
To show our support, we will be sharing a three-part series this month. This series will be centered around the theme, awareness, beginning with part one: Know the Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.
We strive to help those who have not yet been diagnosed, along with those who are currently living with this disease. This series is also intended to support caregivers in order to strengthen the Alzheimer’s community. We look forward to sharing the latest research and data with you.
When Does Alzheimer’s Develop?
Before we address early warning signs, it is important to better understand when this disease first develops.
The answer to this question is not straightforward, especially based on the type of Alzheimer’s a patient develops. In terms of noticeable symptoms, only around 5 percent of all people with this disease will show signs before the age of 65. These individuals develop early-onset and will generally develop symptoms in their 40s and 50s. Genetics are believed to play a key role.
The most common form, late-onset Alzheimer’s, typically impacts those over the age of 65. Although researchers are unsure about the exact cause, both genetic risk factors and lifestyle variables likely play a role. However, the greatest mystery is uncovering why some people get this disease while others do not.
What is interesting about this disease, is that it may develop up to two decades before symptoms first begin to surface. As stated in one study, published in Neurology, cognitive impairment was apparent 18 years before a clinical diagnosis was reached.
Although this may seem frightening, these findings are actually quite encouraging. If researchers can develop a simple, non-invasive test to better assess one’s risk early on, these individuals will have a longer period of time to potentially intervene.
This is also why we developed the BrainTest® app. This assessment tool can help you better detect the possible early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive impairments. The purpose of this app is to increase your awareness in regards to your current level of cognitive thinking.
Am I Developing Alzheimer’s — How Will I Know?
Forgetting where you put your keys can make you worry. Is this a normal sign of aging, or could it be something more? Once again, the answer to this question is not black and white. Alzheimer’s disease (and aging in general) is incredibly complex.
There are “normal” aging deficits which vary from person-to-person. However, there are also a wide range of conditions that can impair one’s cognition outside of dementia, including depression, thyroid issues, and even vitamin deficiencies.
That is why regardless of your symptoms, if anything appears to be abnormal, you should seek a professional medical opinion. When you do meet with your doctor, be prepared to discuss the following:
- What types of symptoms have you noticed?
- When did these symptoms first surface?
- Have they worsened over time?
- Have you changed your diet? What medications are you taking?
Although there is a blood test that can better assess your risk in relation to APOE-e4, the strongest risk gene for Alzheimer’s, it is mainly used in clinical trials. Also, this gene variant does not guarantee that you will develop this disease.
More often than not, your doctor will begin to eliminate other possible causes based on the symptoms discussed. You may then take a test to better assess your thinking skills. This is why your BrainTest® results are so valuable, as they allow you to track changes in your cognitive health over time. Brain scans may also be administered, but they cannot provide an accurate diagnosis.
Know the Signs
Here is a quick checklist to help you better assess your current neurological health status:
- Memory impairments that interfere with daily tasks and functions
- Issues with planning and problem solving
- Difficulty completing tasks that were once familiar
- Becoming confused about time and place
- Misplacing items without being able to retrace steps
- Challenges with writing and conversation
- Impaired judgment, especially in terms of visual and spatial situations
- Changes in personality and mood
- Becoming withdrawn from work, friends, and family
If you notice some or all of the above signs, please make an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you intervene, the better.
For more information, please visit the following:
- Early Intervention Is Key (Here Is How to Spot Alzheimer’s in Those You Love)
- Could Changes In Smell Be An Early Warning Sign of Alzheimer’s?
- Extreme Daytime Drowsiness Could Be An Early Warning Sign of Alzheimer’s