How To Tell if Your Mom or Dad Have Alzheimer’s Disease


Did you know that less than half (45%) of Seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregiver are aware they have it?

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I always like to start this conversation by sharing some perspective on the acute nature of this problem and its long-term effects. We are all affected by this epidemic, if not today, then tomorrow, if not us directly, then someone we love. We are truly in this together!

Many of us have a story that hits close to home, in my case, it was my paternal grandmother… So far my parent’s (already in their 70’s, are not showing any signs) but we are keeping our fingers crossed and educating ourselves on what to watch for and steps to take should we ever need to.

And even though we are in the business of helping families deal with these issues, we are not exempt, far from it. AD doesn’t care who you are, where you come from, your race, religion, or sexual orientation. It wants your brain, and it’s your job to know as much about it as possible in order to be ready to deal with it.

Like any other chronic disease, experts believe AD develops as a result of multiple factors, rather than a single cause. If that’s the case then you can fight it by better understanding the risk factors.

There’s a lot you can do, let’s take a look at some of the most recent data.

Here’s Alzheimer’s by the numbers:

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of Dementia.

As of 2015, an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. This number includes an estimated 5.1 million people age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

  • One in nine people age 65 and older (11 percent)has Alzheimer’s disease
  • About one-third of people age 85 and older(32 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease
  • Eighty-one percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease are age 75 or older
  • Someone in the US develops AD every 67 seconds. By 2050, someone in the US will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

alzheimer's disease

“But in the community, only about half of those who would meet the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are diagnosed with dementia by a physician. Because Alzheimer’s disease is under-diagnosed, half of the estimated 5.3 million Americans with Alzheimer’s may not have been told by a physician that they have it.”

Here’s a pretty nifty fact sheet about Alzheimer’s facts and figures.

That’s right, less than half (45%) of seniors diagnosed with AD or their caregivers are aware of the diagnosis, compared with 90% or more of those diagnosed with cancer and cardiovascular disease. So among those who have it, only 33% are aware of it!

If that sounds crazy to you… is because IT IS!

How are you supposed to fight something you don’t even know you have?

How To Diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease

As per the 2015 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures special report:

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly made by an individual’s primary care physician. No single, simple test exists to diagnose Alzheimer’s
disease. A variety of approaches and tools are available to help make a diagnosis. They include the following:

  • Obtaining a medical and family history from the individual, including psychiatric history and history of cognitive and behavioral changes.
  • Asking a family member or other person close to the individual to provide input about changes in thinking skills or behavior.
  • Seeking input from a specialist, such as a neurologist.
  • Conducting cognitive tests and physical and neurologic examinations.
  • Having the individual undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which can help identify brain changes, such as a tumor, that could explain the
    individual’s symptoms.

Before making a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, physicians may refer to medical resources such as the DSM-5 and published diagnostic criteria that delve even further into the disease.

alzheimer's disease

But also, here are some very well accepted tell-tale signs that you parents may be starting to show signs of early onset AD or Dementia. When and if your parent’s ever start showing these, you can then start thinking about visiting their primary physician to corroborate your suspicions.

So be on the look out for:
  1. Frequent falls, visible cuts and bruises.
  2. Need the help of a walker to get around the house.
  3. When normal conversation stops or takes a depressing tone.
  4. Change in appearance and mood.
  5. No longer interested in activities and fun events.
  6. Excessive arguing and fly-off-the-handle type temper.
  7. Unopened meds and unfilled prescriptions.
  8. Lack of personal hygiene and bathing, strange odor.
  9. Noticeable weight loss, not eating regularly.
  10. Unopened bills and personal mail.
  11. Frequent fender benders. Look for dents and scratches in car.
  12. Lack of housekeeping signs.
  13. Worsening of existing chronic conditions.
  14. Stale and expired food and drinks.
  15. Broken down house appliances and other items.
  16. Cancelling doctor visits.
  17. Excessive forgetfulness and absent-mindedness.

You can complement this list with our very popular Elder Care Guide – Download it, and learn how to create a personalized Elderly Care custom plan.

This guide will show you how to build a basic support system at home for your elderly parents with limited coverage and without going broke in the process?

You’ll learn things like:

So there you go, you now know more than 90% of everyone out there who may be facing an inevitable care giving scenario this week, but they are not armed with this information.

But let’s not keep this information all to ourselves! If you found this post of interest and value, kindly click your favorite social button below and share.

Untitled designClaudio Alegre is the CEO & Chief Content Writer for Angel Home Care Services on the Web and Patient and Family Advocate off the Web. He lives in Miami with his wife and 3 boys. He's passionate about healthcare and all things caregiving. He can be reached at [email protected] or directly at 305.220.4544
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