Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is a condition in which a person develops difficulties with cognitive function. This means the person has difficulty with judgment, the ability to reason or memory.
Alzheimer’s disease: what you should know
Some common early Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include the following:
- Getting lost in familiar settings
- Difficulty with complex tasks
- Difficulty with language, such as not remembering the correct word for items
- Dementia specialists can help you rule out other conditions that may cause thinking problems, such as a brain tumor, stroke or depression.
Memory loss is not inevitable as you age. Research at Rush suggests that the following lifestyle changes have the potential to slow mental decline and delay symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s:
- Having a “higher purpose” and finding meaning in life
- Maintaining a social network
- Getting regular physical exercise
- Eating a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vegetables, fish and olive oil with moderate alcohol consumption (known as the Mediterranean diet)
- Engaging in mentally stimulating activities
How can I get help for Alzheimer’s disease?
- If you suspect you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, see your primary care physician. Most primary care physicians have the ability to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
- If your primary care doctor needs additional support for your care, he or she may seek the advice of a dementia specialist, like those at Rush. A dementia specialist can include a geriatrician (an internist or family medicine physician who focuses on older adults only), a neurologist who specializes in treating dementia or a psychiatrist who specializes in older adults (geropsychiatrist).