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Signs You Have Alzheimer's Disease, Say Physicians

Four symptoms of Alzheimer's to look out for.  
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Almost 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060." Signs of the disease usually start after the age of 60, although younger people in their 30s and 40s can get Alzheimer's too but it's not as common and symptoms vary from person to person. The National Institute on Aging states, "Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain." Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Chaye McIntosh, a Clinical Director at ChoicePoint Health who revealed signs of Alzheimer's to watch out for and how to help prevent getting the disease. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

​​Memory Loss

McIntosh says, "Memory loss is the biggest sign of Alzheimer's because Alzheimer's disease causes damage to the brain cells that are responsible for storing and retrieving memories. When Alzheimer's disease starts to spread, the damage done to the brain cells causes the person to forget about familiar places, faces, and things."  

2

Unable to Solve Problems on Their Own

Pensioner reading message on mobile phone
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According to McIntosh, "Since the disease affects the brain cells, it takes away basic knowledge of how to overcome an obstacle away from people who have Alzheimer's. Their ability to formulate and follow a thought process diminishes. Even mundane tasks like tying one's shoe or dialing a phone number become a huge problem."

3

Unable to Recognize Places

Senior woman conducting an interview
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"It is a common sign of Alzheimer's disease to forget about places they once loved to visit," says McIntosh. "Or even recognize the place at all. In their mind, it seems like a giant black hole that they just cannot fill with the mental image of the place they once loved." 

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4

Unable to Form Full Sentences

Comforting Senior Husband Suffering With Dementia
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McIntosh states, "As the condition grows, it takes away their ability to form comprehensible sentences. They will start showing difficulty in making simple sentences like "I need water" or "I am not feeling well". People suffering from Alzheimer's will also have trouble finding the right word to fit in a sentence." 

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5

Who is at Risk for Alzheimer's?

Mature woman sitting in bed at home.
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McIntosh explains, "People who are 65 and above are more at risk of getting Alzheimer's disease than any other age group. Moreover, it is reported that out of 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer's, two-thirds are women."

Harvard Health states, "One possible explanation as to why women's risk of Alzheimer's disease is greater than men's — in addition to women living longer — is:

-The amyloid plaques that cause Alzheimer's disease may be part of the brain's immune system to fight against infections.

-Women have stronger immune systems than men.

-As part of their stronger immune systems, women may end up having more amyloid plaques than men.

-Because they may have more amyloid plaques than men, this theory may explain why women end up having a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

You are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease over your lifetime if you are a woman, because women live longer than men and, possibly, because women have stronger immune systems compared to men. Does that mean that if you're a woman, you're more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and there's nothing you can do about it? Not at all! You can do many things to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's today."

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6

How to Help Prevent Alzheimer's

older couple doing yoga in front of a laptop
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McIntosh says, "Keeping a healthy diet, not smoking, not consuming alcohol in large quantities, and keeping yourself healthy by exercising are just the most common ways of preventing Alzheimer's. Exercise has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer's as well."

Harvard Health also reveals ways to help prevent Alzheimer'". 

-"Engage in aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or aerobic classes at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week.

-Eat a Mediterranean menu of foods including fish, olive oil, avocados, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and poultry. Eat other foods sparingly.

-Sleep well — and clean those Alzheimer's plaques out of your brain.

-Participate in social activities and novel, cognitively stimulating activities."

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather