Alzheimer’s – not a normal part of aging

Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Over 64,000 people in Ireland are currently living with dementia, with the numbers predicted to rise to 150,000 by 2050 here and to almost triple across the world. September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day and September is World Alzheimer’s month so it’s a timely reminder to be aware of the early signs of dementia and know the risk factors so you can do something about preventing it.

“Many people still wrongly believe that dementia is a part of normal ageing. This alone highlights how important public awareness campaigns, like World Alzheimer’s Month, are for changing perceptions and increasing existing public knowledge around Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” stated a spokesperson for the global campaign.

This year’s theme ‘Never too early, never too late’, centres on the key risk factors and risk reduction, aiming to emphasise their crucial role in delaying and potentially preventing the onset of dementia. This includes ongoing risk reduction for those who have already been diagnosed.

Recognising the signs of Alzheimer’s and seeking a diagnosis is important for long term health and wellbeing. Early detection and understanding of dementia symptoms are vital for timely intervention. Symptoms vary between Alzheimer’s disease – the most common type of dementia – and other types of dementia but there are broad similarities between them.

So what are the most common warning signs that all may not be well – memory loss; difficulty performing familiar tasks; problems with language; disorientation to time and place; poor or decreased judgement; problems keeping track of things; misplacing things; changes in mood and behaviour; challenges understanding visual and spatial information; withdrawal from work or social activities.

“If these signs are new, they may be a sign of dementia. Dementia is not a part of normal aging.”

When early signs are noticed, go see your doctor who will be able to determine whether the symptoms are a normal part of aging when an older person may experience slight changes in their cognitive abilities. Typically, these changes should not be severe enough to impact daily life, according to a guide to mark the month by care providers Home Instead.

“A person may sometimes forget names or appointments but can remember them later. They may misplace things from time to time but can later retrace their steps to find them. These types of lapses in memory may not be a concern until the person can no longer recall or retrace their steps.”


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