(Natural News) Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This translates to more than five million Americans living with the illness today; a number that is estimated to reach 16 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S and is considered America’s most expensive disease.
Despite advancing technologies, there is still a lot we don’t know about the disease. It is necessary, then, to understand how the disease hits and to watch out for these five warning signs.
This is different from merely forgetting where you put your car keys (hint: they’re not in your pocket). This refers to memory loss that is disruptive. The most obvious — and perhaps most critical — symptom of Alzheimer’s is forgetting important information. If you, or someone you know, begins exhibiting difficulty in remembering crucial dates and personal information, you may be at risk. More severe cases include forgetting recently learned information and repeatedly asking for the same information. The disease works its way backward, meaning that people forget the most recent experience first. Dramatic memory loss can also lead to asking or relying on others to complete routine tasks.
Previously simple tasks are suddenly very hard. People can no longer complete daily tasks like working with numbers or following directions. Alzheimer’s patients have to rely on their caregivers to survive. In 2016 alone, it was estimated that caregivers spent 18.2 billion hours of care which is equivalent to around $230 billion.
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What was once familiar is no longer. This includes having problems completing familiar activities such as driving to a known location, forgetting and needing to frequently recite phone numbers, or completely forgetting the rules of a favorite game. This inability to recognize things makes the disease even more debilitating. Alzheimer’s patients can no longer work independently.
People at risk of Alzheimer’s usually become confused about places and dates. They cannot remember how they got to a specific location or even what day it is. Worryingly, confusion among Alzheimer’s patients can lead to them becoming estranged from their loved ones. It is common for patients to manifest their confusion as anger or disturbing behaviors. Family members often get frustrated, mistaking the behavioral changes as something else other than cognitive decline. Take note that each case is different. There have been cases where a person with Alzheimer’s becomes apathetic rather than moody. Red flags are rapid and dramatic mood swings or drastic personality changes.
Alzheimer’s affects your ability to process information. As such, you may have difficulty reading, determining contrasts, and judging distance. People with severe Alzheimer’s may also begin to experience language problems. Choosing the right words can become very difficult.
Early diagnosis is necessary for better treatment. However, nutritionists and wellness experts say that prevention is better than any cure. Alzheimer’s help groups promote the importance of changing one’s lifestyle and diet. In particular, the gut-brain connection is highlighted. Several studies point to the direct connection between what we eat and how we feel. There are superfoods that are easily found in your local grocery store. (Related: Five things you can do to guard against Alzheimers.)
In a study published in the Annals of Neurology, having a diet rich in dark, leafy greens like kale, turnip greens, and spinach dramatically improves mental health. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli are also known to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Elderly people are encouraged to slowly integrate more of these greens into their diet.