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Staying healthy as we get older

January 13, 2014
James P. Whipple , Shepherdstown Chronicle

As I have gotten older, I feel lucky in that though I have some health issues, all and all, I am still in pretty good shape. I do have one worry that comes to mind every now and then. The biggest worry I have is I am afraid of coming down with the Alzheimer's disease. Every time I cannot remember a phone number or a friend's name I think to myself, "Am I getting Alzheimer's?"

According to the Alzheimer's Association, spending time with friends and family members who may not see each other regularly throughout the year provides a great opportunity for a fresh. perspective on health and behavior changes in our lives.

The doctors at the Veterans Hospital tell me that cognitive changes can and do occur as we grow older. Forgetting names or phone numbers now and then is part of growing older. What is not part of getting older is memory problems that impact our daily living, such as forgetting to turn the stove off or putting milk on the shelf instead of the icebox.

According to the AMA, recognizing the differences between normal aging and potentially more serious problems can help to identify when it may be time to see a doctor.

An important part of an early Alzheimer's diagnosis is spotting warning signs early enough that treatment can be used to ease the symptoms of the disease.

The Alzheimer's Association list 10 warning signs that a check up is needed to detect the presents of the Alzheimer's disease.

Number one on the list is memory loss that disrupts daily life. Two is challenges in planning or solving problems. The third is difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. The fourth problem to look for is confusion with time or place.

Fifth on the list is trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Sixth is any new problems with words in speaking or writing. The seventh sign is something I have problems with, that is misplacing things, although I usually spot the thing I am looking for fairly quickly. Where the problem comes in is you are losing the ability to retrace your steps in looking for the lost items. The eighth warning sign is decreased or poor judgment. The ninth thing to look for is a withdrawal from friends, work and daily social activities. The last thing listed is a change in personality and mood.

The AMA says in its report on Alzheimer's disease that "The early detection of the symptoms may allow for an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. This is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support services."

In the old days, such as with my uncle, nothing could be done to help those with Alzheimer's disease. Today it is a different story. Once diagnosed, individuals living with the disease can benefit from treatments that may improve symptoms and help maintain a level of independence.

Today there are some individuals who have chosen to sign up for and participate in a clinical study through Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch which is a free, easy-to-use matching service that connects individuals with Alzheimer's, caregivers, healthy volunteers and physicians with current studies.

Finally anyone with questions about Alzheimer's disease or is seeking information, about clinical studies and resources, should contact the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 toll-free help line at 800-272-3900 or visitwww.alz.org.

 
 
 

 

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