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Knowing the Signs of Alzheimer's Disease: April 25, 2011

Forgetfulness, confusion, the inability to recognize names or faces. These are just some of the common symptoms that could signal Alzheimer's disease. "Early on, people that are forgetting things don't know they are forgetting them. Its as if they never learned it, so they have a lot of denial," says Lee Memorial Health System geriatrician, Dr. Michael Raab.

Denial actually is a common problem that accompanies Alzheimer's disease. Not just for the person affected, but those surrounding them. "Most often if they're married, their spouse has denial. They don't want to see anything that's going on. The people that see something don't want to see anything that's really going on so it's a very difficult, difficult problem," explains Dr. Raab.

Disruption of brain cells associated with Alzheimer's disease generally begins in regions of the brain that form new memories. This can make the diagnosis difficult. "Even when we do all the sophisticated team approach that we do where we are getting MRI scans and looking for structural change, and we're doing three hours of memory testing, it's not until the next year, where we can see there is a slippage."

Withdrawal from social activities, change sin mood, and the inability to retrace steps are also early warning signs. If you do suspect a loved one is having memory difficulties, Older Adult Services can help you assess the situation and provide an action plan for the family. You can call 239 343-2634 for more information.