Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 16 million people have Alzheimer's disease and although it develops differently for every individual, there are many common symptoms. There is no cure for the disease which sadly worsens as it progresses, eventually leading to death. Early symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns or manifestations of stress. In the early stages, the most common symptom is a difficulty in remembering recent events. Other symptoms can include:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work.
- Confusion with time.
- 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.
- A withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
When Alzheimer's is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with tests that evaluate behavior and thinking abilities. Unfortunately, there is no simple, reliable test for diagnosing the disease, so the diagnosis is usually based on ruling out other conditions first. If your GP suspects Alzheimer’s, they can often carry out a brain scan which includes:
- Computerised axial tomography (CT or CAT) scans are a way of taking pictures of the brain using X-rays and a computer.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans create an image of the brain using radio signals produced by the body in response to the effects of a very strong magnet contained within the scanner.
- Single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) scans look at the blood flow through the brain, rather than at the structure of the brain.
If you’re worried about your health and think you or someone else close to you may have Alzheimer's you should visit and speak with your GP.