You are totally attracted to the gym bag (or lunch … or the keys to your apartment … or your mobile phone …) when you go to work in the morning. Or, you forgot to submit your cable bill payment online last week. Hey, no judgment – when it comes to getting older, forgetting stuff is part of the deal. But if your memory loss is not seems to be a typical feature of aging, and does this happen all the time?
If you are a woman, this is a serious question to consider. According to the Women's Movement for Alzheimer's, two-thirds of Alzheimer's patients and caregivers are women, which means that women are disproportionately affected by the disease.
Although the reasons behind this reality are not entirely clear, hormones are probably at stake. "Women who have had a hysterectomy, early menopause, or early loss of estrogen are particularly vulnerable," says David A. Merrill. MD, Ph.D., neurologist and geriatric psychiatrist at Saint John's Providence Saint John's Health Center. "We know that estrogen has a protective effect on the brain and contributes to its proper functioning."
To make matters worse, Dr. Merrill explains that the psychological and cognitive processes of aging are aging the first warning signs of dementia syndromes (Alzheimer's disease is the most common). It is therefore easy to go from these first signs of cerebral degeneration to a banal aging.
Become familiar with the first and the first signs of the disease here – directly from neurologists! – will prepare you all the more for action if and when you notice that something seems to be wrong with you or someone you care about.
1. Your The loss of memory has an impact on your daily life.
You are about to order your coffee latte at your local coffee shop when you realize you can not remember the name of the barista … and serve you five days a week. Is it bad?
Probably not, says Henry Paulson, MD, Ph.D., neurologist and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Treatment Center at the University of Michigan. "As we grow older, our brain changes," he says. "It's normal for things like our speed of reflection and name recall to slow down."
The memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease is not just the inability to remember a person's name. "[We’re talking about] forget major events or lose entire episodes, "says Dr. Paulson. For example, "You do not remember going on a beach vacation for three days with your family or attending your grandchild's birthday party last weekend," he says. .
Paulson adds that misplaced objects, such as routinely putting the keys of his car in the refrigerator or not knowing which room to be in, are also under the cover of memory loss, without knowing which day of the week or what month it is.
One last thing: sometimes people rely too much on tricks such as repetition or taking notes to force themselves to remember things they know they will forget. If you (or a loved one) notice that you are doing this, it is worthwhile to see it. a neurologist.
2. You have problems with language and vision.
If you have difficulty speaking or writing or have vision problems, it is also time to contact your doctor. Early brain degeneration can make communication and engagement with your environment difficult.
"You may notice spatial changes in your vision or even difficulties in perceiving the world around you," says Dr. Paulson. "When you speak, you have to go a long way and find other expressions to explain what you need because you do not remember the exact word."
Again, these problems are not limited to watching television from the other side of the room or writing the wrong date on your checks, all of which are part of normal aging; The first symptoms of Alzheimer's would probably be more obvious and persistent.
3. You can not seem to solve problems or use good judgment.
There are several red flags to watch for in this category, including difficulty performing tasks, problem solving, and posting poor judgment. According to Dr. Paulson, our brains must process a range of information in order to move productively in our daily lives. The degeneration caused by the onset of Alzheimer's can make a decision as simple as choosing what to order for lunch, a complicated decision.
People in the early stages of the disease may show other signs of cognitive deterioration, such as their inability to follow instructions or recipes, their serious financial mistakes or their efforts to maintain a healthy routine of hygiene, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
4. You retreat from your social life.
Do you (or your aging mother perhaps) have the habit of living every holiday, but now you are staying more and more often at home after social gatherings? You could experience a normal decrease in energy … or it could be a harbinger of Alzheimer's disease.
According to Dr. Paulson, when brain degeneration prevents remembering commitments, participating in conversations, or participating fully in social events, many people begin to withdraw from these activities. Sometimes this is a symptom of depression (which should not be ignored either), but in any case it is important to seek help if someone's behavior seems to you to be inappropriate .
5. Your mood or personality looks radically different.
Speaking of behavior out of the character, when you or someone you love starts acting like a stranger, it's time to take these changes seriously.
"It's a little rarer, but we see it at an early stage," says Dr. Paulson. "It looks like someone who knows right from wrong becomes suddenly uninhibited and does things that he would never do normally."
According to the National Institute of Aging, it can also manifest itself as a person with intense mood swings, becoming easily distrustful of others or showing aggression or exacerbated sexual behaviors.
But remember that Alzheimer's is not common among young people.
So, if you have few memory problems before you turn 60, it is unlikely that you will have Alzheimer's symptoms (although you should always consult your doctor if you are concerned).
And if you need help figuring out next steps for yourself or a loved one, the Alzheimer's Association offers a 24/7 hotline, patient resources, and more. caregivers, as well as a directory of local support groups for those affected by the disease.