Friday, February 19, 2010

Seven Signs of Decline

Neurologists now determine if a patient has Alzheimer’s disease by giving the patient a memory test and then taking an extensive medical history, talking to the family and performing tests to eliminate other possible causes for the cognitive lapses. In this way, doctors accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s 90 percent of the time, especially with older patients, according to Nechama Bernhardt, a neurologist in Baltimore specializing in Alzheimer’s. Here are some of signs of the memory loss and confusion that characterize the disorder:

• Asking the same questions repeatedly.

• Repeating the same story word for word multiple times.

• Forgetting how to do basic tasks that the person once performed easily, such as cooking, making repairs and playing cards.

• Problems paying bills or balancing a checkbook (assuming these tasks were not previously difficult).

• Getting lost in familiar places.

• Neglecting personal hygiene habits such as bathing or dressing in clean clothes while insisting on having taken a bath or put on a new outfit.

• Relying on someone else to make decisions—such as what to buy at a supermarket or where to go next—that were easily handled in the past.

None of the symptoms above—alone or even in combination—is a sure sign of the disease. But anyone who displays several of these abnormal behaviors should see a specialist for a more thorough examination.

Source of Information : Scientific American Mind November-December 2009

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