Health of Your Loved Ones: 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

Health of Your Loved Ones: 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050. As if those numbers weren't staggering enough, consider this: Alzheimer's disease is the only cause of death that can't be prevented, cured or slowed down.

Health of Your Loved Ones: 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

Ask any expert, and he or she will tell you that early diagnosis is key to helping patients live better day to day, so even though the disease is still progressing, the symptoms are less harsh.

"Our hope is that if we could identify patients who are developing the disease early, it would give us a much better opportunity to intervene with treatments, and it's much more likely for those treatments to be effective," says Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

But while early diagnosis leads to early intervention, some news out of the 2013 Alzheimer's Association International Conference is troubling: An expert panel found 16 online tests for Alzheimer's disease scored poorly on scales of overall scientific validity, reliability and ethical factors.

"Self-diagnosis behavior ... is increasingly popular online, and freely accessible quizzes that call themselves 'tests' for Alzheimer's are available on the Internet," says Julie Robillard, who presented the data this week in Boston. "However, little is known about the scientific validity and reliability of these offerings and ethics-related factors, including research and commercial conflict of interest, confidentiality and consent."

"Frankly," Robillard adds, "what we found online was distressing and potentially harmful."

If you suspect a family member or friend is developing Alzheimer's, take a look at these 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Disease, put together by the Alzheimer's Association:

1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure

4. Confusion with time or place

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8. Decreased or poor judgment

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

10. Changes in mood and personality

Rather than diagnose Alzheimer's disease at home, head to your doctor's office. You can also find more information at www.alz.org. The importance of early detection and early intervention can't be stressed strongly enough. It could mean added years of lucidity and life for you or someone you love.

Health of Your Loved Ones: 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

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