Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s is a disease that progressively affects memory and other cognitive functions.

To address this topic, “Órale con Verónica,” a radio program where guests discuss topics related to art, culture, education, entrepreneurship, and personal development, featured an insightful segment. The program also includes a community bulletin and music from local artists as well as traditional Latin American themes.

In this edition, Leonor Buitrago, the Diversity Outreach Manager at the Alzheimer’s Association, provided valuable information about prevention and the early signs of Alzheimer’s, specifically directed at our Hispanic community.

June, the month dedicated to Alzheimer’s and brain health awareness, is an excellent opportunity to take proactive measures and participate in activities offered by the Alzheimer’s Association.

What are the early signs to detect this disease?

Leonor Buitrago emphasized the importance of paying attention to certain behaviors and cognitive changes that, although often subtle at first, can indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s.

During the interview, she highlighted ten early signs to watch for, providing a clear and comprehensible guide to help detect the disease in its initial stages.

The 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life:
    • Forgetting recently learned information, important dates, or asking the same questions repeatedly.

    2. Difficulty in planning or solving problems:

      • Trouble following a plan or working with numbers, such as following a recipe or managing monthly bills.

      3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks:

        • Forgetting how to get to a known place or managing a budget.

        4. Confusion with time or place:

          • Forgetting dates, seasons, the passage of time, or getting lost in familiar locations.

          5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships:

            • Difficulty reading, judging distances, and determining colors.

            6. New problems with words in speaking or writing:

              • Struggles in following or joining a conversation and forgetting common words.

              7. Misplacing items and losing the ability to retrace steps:

                • Losing items and being unable to recall where they were left.

                8. Decreased or poor judgment:

                  • Making unwise decisions, such as giving away large sums of money.

                  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities:

                    • Losing interest in hobbies, social activities, and work projects.

                    10. Changes in mood or personality:

                    • Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, or anxious.

                      Prevention and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

                      According to Leonor Buitrago, it is important to differentiate between normal forgetfulness and a symptom of Alzheimer’s.

                      If the symptoms affect daily life, they could be a warning sign.

                      It is crucial to consult a doctor upon noticing these signs to receive an accurate and early diagnosis, as not all memory loss is due to Alzheimer’s.

                      Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s

                      Leonor Buitrago mentions that although Alzheimer’s has no cure, there are ways to reduce the risk:

                      • Healthy diet: Consume a balanced and nutritious diet.
                      • Physical exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, as it benefits both the heart and brain.
                      • Socialization: Participate in social activities and stay in touch with friends and family.
                      • Quality sleep: Ensure good sleep quality, and consult a doctor if there are sleep issues.
                      • Control of risk factors: Keep high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels under control.
                      • Continuous learning: Learn new things to stimulate the brain and create new neural connections.

                      Resources and Support for Alzheimer’s

                      The Alzheimer’s Association offers a helpline available 24/7, with specialized staff who speak Spanish.

                      For support, finding diagnostic centers, and joining support groups, visit the Alzheimer’s Association booth for more information in Spanish.

                      Remember that while Alzheimer’s is a challenging disease, there are many things we can do to reduce the risk and maintain our brain health.