Alzheimer’s: Know the Warning Signs

by Mindy Renfro

The days go by faster, my body doesn’t always “rise to the occasion” and my keys – where did I put my keys? Aging certainly beats the alternative, but is certainly not for the weak. Of course, aging equals living longer – a very good thing – but presents many new challenges to each of us.

One of the greatest worries for baby boomers is the threat of cognitive decline and/or the beginning of
Alzheimer’s disease.

As aggravating as it is to have to search for our keys, the real problem is our fear that we are heading
down the “slippery slope” of one of the many types of dementia. Thankfully, this is not commonly the case.

However, it is occurring at an alarming rate to our parents, family members, friends and neighbors –
and it will include a significant number of those of us reading this article.

What are the facts? According to the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org):

  • Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.
  • An estimated 5.2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s in 2014.
  • By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may nearly triple, from 5 million
    to as many as 16 million. In 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – care valued at $220.2 billion, which is nearly eight times the total revenue of McDonald’s in 2012.
  • More than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are women.
  • The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated to total $214 billion
    in 2014, increasing to $1.2 trillion (in today’s dollars) by midcentury.
  • Nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Know the 10 warning signs for Alzheimer’s and dementia:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  • Confusion with time or place.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality.

For more information, go to alz.org/10signs or call 1-800-272-3900 and/or speak with your health
care provider.

Steps to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia as we age:

alzheimers-coupleWe are very fortunate that there is strong research to show us how to prevent and/or forestall the onset of dementia. These steps are helpful most of the time, but will not be effective for everyone. These include all of the following:

Increase your physical activity: A medically approved activity program designed specifically for older adults and your interests is critical to increase blood flow to brain cells and maintain overall wellness.

Improve your diet and nutrition: A nutritionally dense but calorie-restricted diet is vital to overall health and prevention of all dementias. Annual blood tests to check vitamin levels, electrolytes and cholesterol levels will help you to plan your best diet approach with your physician.

Prevent head trauma: Serious head trauma is linked to Alzheimer’s later in life. Wear a helmet during activities such as biking, skiing, etc. Wear seat belts in motor vehicles. Take steps to prevent falls, a common cause of traumatic brain injury in older adults. A very good resource for fall prevention can be found on the National Council on Aging’s website, titled “Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls”

Limit alcohol use: People who consume large amounts of alcohol may have a higher risk of dementia. Although studies have shown that moderate amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect, abuse of alcohol increases your risk of developing dementia.

Control your blood pressure: A number of studies show high or low blood pressure may increase your risk of developing dementia.

Avoid obesity: Being overweight or obese during the middle of your life may increase your risk of developing dementia when you’re older. If you are diabetic, be proactive in controlling your
blood sugar.

Cut out smoking: Smoking tobacco may increase your risk of developing dementia and blood vessel
(vascular) diseases.

What is happening in Montana to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and the other dementias?

Despite our best efforts, some of us will experience this devastating disease either directly or indirectly. We must all know how to come together as a community to prevent, diagnose, treat and support the best quality of life of both patients and their caregivers/families. Montana is not yet ready, but we are taking
great steps to improve our services and care.

Come and learn more. Whether you are an older adult, a professional caring for older adults, a concerned citizen or a family dealing with Alzheimer’s, there is an upcoming conference you will want to attend. This year, the Montana Gerontology Society and the Governor’s Council on Aging are combining their annual conferences into one.

The focus this year is “Insights into Alzheimer’s Disease” and will be held May 12-14 at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena. Registration for both attendees and exhibitors is now available at montanagerontology.org. Keynote speakers include four national experts with concurrent breakout sessions to follow. Three tracks of presentations will be available as well as a large exhibitor hall, a celebration of Montana’s centenarians at a special luncheon and statewide aging awards. Continuing education will be available for health care professionals. Networking and support will be available for families. Please plan to join us by registering.

Mindy Renfro is a clinical coordinator for the University of Montana Rural Institute’s MonTECH. She is an invited member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Expert Fall Prevention panel and works closely with the physical therapy subgroup at a national level. She can be reached at mindy.renfro@umontana.edu.

Comments (2)

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  1. August 2, 2015
    I appreciate your input on this quiet giant of loss to metanl health. I do not suffer from this but I have known some who did and a few who presently deal with this silent killer. For me, the statement of conditions of Alzheimer's has limited direct family impact for me but this disease floats like a haze that can settle on anyone. I quietly consider this for me, if for any other reason, the direct and indirect impact of this disease would have on me and those I care for. Thanks for your effort, Tom Harrison Reply
  2. June 12, 2016
    Please there is a cure for dementia and no one knows. This is my husband’s story... My husband was a retired force man, he had partial stroke 5 years ago, and then i was still working. His condition got worse and he was hospitalized. After some time of treatment he began to behave abnormal, like someone who has lost memory of event and occurrence. i shared tears the very day i walked to him in the hospital and he could not even recognize me. This is am man that is very playful and highly romantic. Each day i hold him to myself and share tears the more. He was not able to do anything just look at me like a bull dog and do so many abnormal things. Later on doctor brought a recent report and he was diagnosed of dementia this doctor says have no cure that he would die a brainless man. Oh my God i fainted when i heard this. I raised my voice and cry to God to help me from this. So i began to hope and trust God to do miracle. My pastor was a great pillar of encouragement to me. i did all i can to get a cure for him, but none worked out, i spent thousands of USD trying to get a cure for him. But behold a friends doctor came visiting and said to me let’s look if herbal remedy can help him get any better so he gave me your website which is www. drisimhenmhenherbalhome.com there i saw how people testified of the good works of herbs in their life, so i decided to contact the doctor because his contact details was on his website.. The first time i emailed him, i got no reply from him, so i decided to call him on the phone. I called him, and told him what he could do was to laugh and said to me that anything the enemy have planned against my husband must fail, he said to me that he have cured CJD and this is similar to what my husband have. After all, he prepared herbs and sent to me, i have to force my husband to take it because before then he was not taking anything from me to eat anymore. but behold sir it was just like a magic gradually my husband begin to get better, better and today sir i am proud to say my husband is totally cured, He you cured my husband of this deadly dementia disease and now i keep my promise i made to him before the cure that i will let the entire world know about his herbs if my husband is cured. Sir, now i am overwhelmed. God bless you sir. My husband has the plans to travel to see the doctor facially and say a physical thanks to him in his country, and i will accompany him down to his home in his country to also show my gratitude him. God bless him in abundant. If you have same problem or have other health issues and want to contact Doctor Isimhenmhen Anthony, here is his website (http://drisimhenmhenherbalhome.com). Reply

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