How to identify Alzheimer’s, understand it and how to treat it was the topic discussed at La Hora del Café of the newspaper El Mundo Boston in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital.
On this occasion, they had as their guest Dr. Paolo Cassano, a leading physician, psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
With a recognized expertise in both medicine and research, Dr. Cassano presents the main milestones of Alzheimer’s disease, its early signs and strategies for prevention and care.
Dr. Cassano holds a doctorate in medicine, making him a distinguished authority in the field of psychiatry.
He currently serves as a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and also assumes the role of research physician at the Mass General Research Institute.
Dr. Cassano’s research interests span a variety of topics:
- Mood disorders,
- Cross-cultural psychiatry, with a particular focus on Latino mental health.
How to identify and understand Alzheimer’s
1. Recognize the early signs:
Dr. Cassano emphasized that Alzheimer’s can progress rapidly, as noticeable cognitive decline occurs within months to a couple of years.
Common early signs include difficulty remembering names, difficulty finding the right words or going to the store and not remembering what you needed to buy.
2. How to identify Alzheimer’s: age of onset
According to Dr. Cassano, contrary to common belief, Alzheimer’s can manifest itself as early as age 50, challenging the notion that it affects only older people.
3. Distinguishing age-related memory loss:
Dr. Cassano stressed that the distinction between age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s lies in the speed with which symptoms manifest.
Alzheimer’s progresses more rapidly, leading to significant cognitive decline.
4. Early detection:
While newer medications are available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, early detection remains crucial.
Identifying symptoms and seeking medical attention is paramount to finding the right treatment for the patient, although the efficacy of some medications is still being studied.
5. Caregiver support:
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be incredibly challenging.
Dr. Cassano recommended that caregivers seek help and maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, an active social life and knowing when to ask for help.
6. Prevention strategies:
Dr. Cassano stressed the importance of prevention through physical and mental exercise, a nutritious diet and staying socially engaged.
How to Identify Alzheimer’s: Early Symptoms and Seeking Help
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects memory, thinking and behavior.
As a leading cause of dementia, it can be a heartbreaking experience for both those diagnosed and their families.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, early detection and intervention can significantly improve the quality of life for those affected.
In Massachusetts, renowned for its research and health care institutions, resources are available to help individuals and families cope with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.
Recognizing the symptoms
The first step in dealing with Alzheimer’s is to recognize its symptoms.
While Alzheimer’s varies from person to person, there are common signs that may indicate the presence of the disease:
- Memory loss: perhaps the most well-known symptom, people with Alzheimer’s often experience memory lapses, especially for recent events. They may forget conversations, appointments or where they placed everyday objects.
- Difficulty with language: People with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty finding the right words, repeat themselves or have trouble following or joining conversations.
- Confusion with time and place: losing track of dates, seasons or the passage of time is common. They may become disoriented and forget where they are or how they got there.
- Loss of judgment: People with Alzheimer’s may have problems, such as giving away money excessively or trusting strangers inappropriately.
- Problems with abstract thinking: Difficulties with complex tasks, such as managing finances or planning, may become evident.
- Mood and personality changes: Alzheimer’s may cause mood swings, apathy or social withdrawal. Individuals may become more anxious, distrustful or easily upset.
How to Identify Alzheimer’s and Know When to Seek Help
Identifying these signs in yourself or a loved one can be challenging, but it is critical to seek help right away.
In Massachusetts, there are numerous health care providers and resources available for Alzheimer’s diagnosis and care:
- Primary Care Physician: If you or someone you know has cognitive or memory problems, start with a visit to a primary care physician. They can perform an initial evaluation and refer you to specialists for further evaluation.
- Specialized memory clinics: Boston is home to renowned medical institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both of which offer specialized memory clinics staffed by experts in neurology and geriatrics. These clinics provide comprehensive evaluations, diagnostic testing and personalized treatment plans.
- Alzheimer’s Association: The Alzheimer’s Association has a strong presence in Boston and offers a wide range of resources, including support groups, educational programs, and a 24/7 helpline. They can connect you with local services and provide valuable information for caregivers.
- Clinical Trials: Boston’s research institutions are actively involved in the study of Alzheimer’s disease. Participating in clinical trials can provide access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies. Organizations such as the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (MADRC) offer opportunities to join studies.
The importance of early intervention
Preventing Alzheimer’s and early detection are critical for several reasons.
While there is no cure, certain medications and interventions can help control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
In addition, early diagnosis allows individuals and families to plan for the future and access support services.
In Massachusetts, the city’s medical community is well equipped to help you.
Remember, Alzheimer’s is best approached with knowledge, compassion and a strong support system.
The information contained on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.
Readers should direct any questions regarding their personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.