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What does early Alzheimer's disease look like?

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step to helping your loved ones

Occasionally forgetting things is natural, so when should memory issues become a casue for deeper concern? Dr Chan Kin Ming, senior consultant in geriatric medicine at Chan KM Geriatric & Medical Clinic, on the key tell-tale signs of early Alzheimer’s disease and ways to slow its progression.

Recently, my 60-year-old mother keeps misplacing things and blaming them on the helper. Once, she even forgot her grandson’s name, though she remembered it later. Does she have early Alzheimer’s disease?

These complaints are worrying and certainly need further evaluation before we can conclude whether she has Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys one’s memory and thinking skills, mood, and behavior, and, eventually, the ability to carry out even simple everyday tasks.

What are the symptomps and when should we take her to the doctor?

Common early symptoms of AD include the loss of recent memory, which can present as misplacing or losing things, or work or name finding difficulties. This could leave gaps in the conversation as the person struggles to find the correct word or forgets a close family member’s name.

Other symptoms of early AD include difficulties making plans or problem-solving, having trouble performing daily tasks, disorientation about time and place, social withdrawal, and mood changes.

As a general guide, a decline in any of these symptoms warrants an evaluation by a specialist. It is best to confirm the diagnosis because there are other conditions that may mimic AD-like depression, hypothyroidism, electrolyte imbalance, stroke or even brain tumors.

If it is really early AD, what can be done to help her and prevent further memory loss?

When the diagnosis is confirmed, there are various treatment options such as the use of medications that can slow the progression or manage the more problematic symptoms of dementia (for instance, mood changes).

Of late, attention has been focused on nutrition as a treatment modality. This includes the Nordic of Mediterranean diet which contains lots of fatty fish, fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats.

This can be quite a major change from the local diet. Fortunately, we now have a nutritional supplement, which contains a unique combination of essential nutrients like EPA, DHA, Choline and B vitamins to support the nutritional needs of individuals with ealy AD. In a recently concluded three-year LipiDiDiet trial, this supplement has shown positive results in reducing cognitive and memory decline, as well as reducing brain shrinkage.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

When the diagnosis is confirmed, there are various treatment options such as the use of medications that can slow the progression or manage the more problematic symptoms of dementia (for instance, mood changes).

Of late, attention has been focused on nutrition as a treatment modality. This includes the Nordic of Mediterranean diet which contains lots of fatty fish, fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats.

This can be quite a major change from the local diet. Fortunately, we now have a nutritional supplement, which contains a unique combination of essential nutrients like EPA, DHA, Choline and B vitamins to support the nutritional needs of individuals with ealy AD. In a recently concluded three-year LipiDiDiet trial, this supplement has shown positive results in reducing cognitive and memory decline, as well as reducing brain shrinkage.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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