An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can be the key to helping individuals and families receive the information, support, and intervention required to improve their quality of life. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that many Americans are not being diagnosed with dementia early or being told about their diagnosis.
The reason? Many people don’t know how to talk to their healthcare providers about their questions or fears, or they’re reluctant to do so. Others may not understand the symptoms of dementia and how they differ from typical age-related changes. Without this information or proper medical records, it’s difficult for physicians to make an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, let alone an early one.
Read on to learn more about new advancements in the early detection of dementia and the benefits of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Early Detection of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease, meaning the symptoms become worse over time. Memory loss is often one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s, but people with dementia can still live independently in the early stages of the disease. However, as time progresses the symptoms become more severe and many people with Alzheimer’s disease need full-time care.
As the Alzheimer’s Association explains, there is a lot of hope that future treatments could target the disease in its earliest stages, before irreversible brain damage has occurred. Neuroimaging is regularly used today for early detection of Alzheimer’s in addition to genetic-risk profiling. Research into advanced brain imaging techniques and blood tests continues to evolve with promising results.
It’s always important to understand the risks of developing Alzheimer’s and never shy away from discussing any memory loss or other concerns with a healthcare provider. It’s also important to share any family history with dementia. Combined, these are critical pieces of information for the early detection of Alzheimer’s.
Benefits of Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
Why is early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s important?
Here are just a handful of the early Alzheimer’s diagnosis benefits to consider.
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are many therapies and lifestyle adjustments that may help improve cognitive function and delay the need for long-term care. According to Biogen, cognitive training and stimulation, reality orientation, and reminiscence therapy may be beneficial for patients with dementia. Early intervention also enhances a family’s or caregiver’s ability to be proactive about creating a safe and secure environment for their loved one.
Early intervention can help improve a person with dementia’s quality of life and address both physical and mental health concerns proactively.
Another important benefit of an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis is the ability to plan for the future. Individuals diagnosed with dementia before they show any symptoms can be proactive about making plans for themselves and their family members.
This includes everything from financial and estate planning to making decisions about long-term care and even end-of-life care. The ability to plan for the future can help make things easier for patients and loved ones alike during difficult times and also ease some of the anxiety that comes with a diagnosis.
Part of this planning can include talking about the decision to live at home or in a memory care community (or both over time). The Alzheimer’s Association explains that an individual living with Alzheimer’s can live in the comfort of his or her own home with the right safety features in place. Adding locks and strategic lighting, anchoring furniture, and removing tripping hazards can all help a person with dementia safely live in their home longer.
Of course, as the disease progresses, the need for specialized care may become more apparent. In this case, a designated memory care facility with features like additional locks, no access to kitchen equipment, and professional staff who can assist your loved one with taking medications is likely best.
Improved Quality of Life
Early detection of Alzheimer’s can make a major difference in a person’s quality of life. Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be devastating, but early intervention and planning can help individuals maintain their sense of independence and control for as long as possible..
By understanding what the future may hold, individuals can take action to maintain a sense of purpose and independence. That might mean participating in activities they joy, making memory books, or staying connected with friends and family.
At The Moments, residents with memory loss experience a quality of life and a joyful atmosphere that simply doesn’t exist elsewhere. Learn more about our Memory Care community today.