Alzheimer’s disease is not just a memory loss problem. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and it has taken more lives than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined. Prompt and specialized care is crucial at the onset of this critical condition. In this post, your trusted neurologist in Leesburg VA discussed this disease in detail —its symptoms, stages, and more.
An Overview of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease, also referred to as senile dementia, is a progressive neurological condition that destroys the patient’s mental capacities. It slowly kills brain cells and their connections, impairing memory and other essential cognitive functions. While it primarily affects senior citizens, Alzheimer’s disease is known to afflict persons at any age.
Studies show that the disease is also hereditary. In a recent memory test done on a select group of people between 18 and 65 years old, it was revealed that those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease have a higher risk of developing the condition compared with those who didn’t have any.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease typically experience:
• Loss of memory
• Inability to tell time or place
• Uncharacteristic difficulty in solving problems
• Challenges in completing tasks at home or leisure time
• Struggles in determining visual images and spatial relationships
The severity of each symptom depends on how far the disease has progressed. Consult a neurologist in Leesburg immediately at the first sign of any of these symptoms.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the Brain
As individuals age, their brain shrinks to some degree. Those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, however, lose huge amounts of neurons as well. Aside from this, a number of neurons also lose their function, leading to a significant disconnect in the patient’s neurological processes.
Sections of the brain that are involved in memory, language, reasoning, and social behavior deteriorate as Alzheimer’s progresses. The damage causes the individual’s inability to function independently. The disease typically starts destroying neurological connections in the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, and cerebral cortex. It eventually moves on to the other parts of the brain.
The 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease gradually takes over a person’s bodily functions. Based on observations of past patients, Dulles neurology experts have broken down the impact of Alzheimer’s disease into seven stages:
1. Normal Outward Behavior
In this stage, the symptoms are not yet visible. Going through a PET scan, an imaging exam that assesses the brain’s functionality, is the only the way to determine the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Mild Changes
Symptoms are still not observable at this stage; however, the patient may experience memory problems more frequently. Common issues include difficulty with recalling words and misplacing objects. Since these symptoms are minor, they won’t keep the patient from working or living independently yet.
3. Mild Decline
At this stage, the patient begins asking the same questions over and over. They will also have a hard time recalling names when meeting new people, making plans, and remembering something that they’ve just read.
4. Moderate Decline
At this stage, the patient starts forgetting details about themselves. They will also struggle with common thinking and reasoning activities, such as cooking meals, ordering from a menu, and recalling the current month.
5. Moderate Severe Decline
At this stage, the patient begins losing track of where they are. They will also find it difficult to remember their address, contact number, what time it is, and what type of clothing is appropriate for the season.
6. Severe Decline
At this stage, the patient starts having a hard time remembering names. They will also misidentify people and experience delusions, like thinking they need to go to work even though they’ve been unemployed for years.
7. Very Severe Decline
At this stage, the patient loses basic abilities, including eating, walking, and sitting up. They will require intensive care and attention from their loved ones as they can no longer tell when they’re hungry or thirsty.
Handling Alzheimer’s Disease
While no cure exists for Alzheimer’s at the moment, there are steps that can be taken to manage its symptoms and slow down its progression. At the first sign of the disease, consult any of these specialists for prompt diagnosis:
• Geriatric psychiatrist
• General neurologist
• Behavioral neurologist
While any of these medical experts can offer the necessary care and assistance to combat Alzheimer’s, it’s still best to rely on a neurologist. Alzheimer’s is a neurological condition, after all, and neurologists are the most informed when it comes to research regarding the condition.
Get Compassionate Care for Alzheimer’s from an Experienced Neurologist
For the best care for Alzheimer’s disease, trust only Neurology Associates. As the leading board-certified neurologist in Leesburg, VA, Dr. Sabjot Dulai can help you or your loved one combat this neurological condition. Call (703) 726-6393 today to set an appointment!
Studies show that Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) affects more than 60,000 Americans, yet most individuals either disregard it or assume it is Alzheimer’s. Our Dulles neurology expert, Dr. Sarbjot Dulai, urges everyone to keep an eye out for its symptoms. An insidious neurodegenerative condition, FTD can strike anyone, leaving the patient and everyone involved reeling at the sudden development. Get the lowdown on this devastating disorder.
Distinguishing FTD from Alzheimer’s
Most people who encounter someone with FTD often confuse it for Alzheimer’s. Avoid premature or incorrect diagnosis by knowing their key differences.
- Age of diagnosis – People suffering from FTD are typically diagnosed in their 40’s and 60’s. Alzheimer’s, meanwhile, is more common in people beyond those ages.
- Behavior changes –Behavior changes are often the first telling signs of FTD. They happen to Alzheimer’s patients as well but in the more advanced stages of the condition.
- Memory loss – In FTD, the deterioration of memory happens in its advanced stages. In Alzheimer’s, it’s prominent from the onset.
- Hallucinations – People with Alzheimer’s frequently suffer from hallucinations and delusions. People with FTD don’t.
- Speech issues – Such as having trouble articulating thoughts; FTD sufferers often struggle to make sense of what they say, read, and speak more compared to Alzheimer patients.
- Spatial orientation issues – Such as getting lost in familiar places; Alzheimer patients suffer from these types of problems more than those with FTD.
Defining the Different Types of FTD
FTD has two distinct types, each targeting a specific aspect or function:
1. Behavior variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) affects the patient’s behavior and personality. People who develop it are often in their 50s and 60s.
2. Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) affects speech, writing, comprehension, and language skills. Most people develop it before age 65.
The symptoms of FTD progressively worsen over the years. Early diagnosis is a must to give the patient the care they require. This is why any competent neurologist in Leesburg who suspects FTD in their patient would immediately require various exams for confirmation. 24-hour care is crucial in the most advanced stages of the condition.
What causes FTD?
The cause of FTD is mostly unknown. Experts have determined its prevalence in people with a family history of dementia, but more than 50 percent of the people who develop it don’t have such a background.
What are the symptoms of FTD?
To find out if you or someone you know may be suffering from FTD, look for these symptoms:
Speech and language issues
- Difficulty in articulating
- Loss of word meaning knowledge
- Misuse of pronouns
- Use of hesitant speech
- Increasing difficulty in understanding language
- Loss of empathy
- Changes in eating habits, predominantly overeating
- Consumption of inedible items
- Gradual disregard of personal hygiene
- Repetitive compulsive behavior
- Loss of judgment or inhibition
- Lack of awareness of their behavioral changes
FTD shares symptoms with other neurological conditions. To rule out other disorders, consult a neurologist in Leesburg, VA immediately. Accomplish all the exams that the doctor may require and don’t miss any of the appointments following the initial consultation.
Who is more susceptible to FTD?
People who have a family history of dementia are more likely to develop frontotemporal dementia.
Recently on 60 Minutes, CBS aired an episode of frontotemporal dementia as the “cruelest disease you’ve never heard of”.
Keep an Eye Out for Its Symptoms
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of FTD, schedule an appointment with Neurology Associates immediately. We will help you determine if you or your loved one is suffering from FTD. If it’s not FTD, don’t fret. You can trust our Dulles neurology specialist, Dr. Sarbjot Dulai, for expert and customized care. Schedule an appointment with us today.
How the Best Neurologist in Leesburg, VA can Help You Engage More with Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease
Trying to communicate with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease is hard, both for the patient and the caregiver. Communicating progressively worsens as the patient’s condition advances. Care should be given in talking with these types of patients and strategies must be adopted according to the degree in the decline of the patient’s health.