Most people forget things from time to time but when it starts to affect your everyday activities, there may be a deeper meaning behind it.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. It’s an opportunity for millions of people, including those personally affected by the disease and their caregivers, to receive more information and understanding while raising awareness about a debilitating disease that slowly robs a person of their cognitive functions.

Many people use the terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Early symptoms of dementia can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficultly performing familiar tasks
  • Problems with language and changes in personality.

There are currently estimated to be 44 million people worldwide living with dementia. The number of people affected is set to rise to over 135 million by 2050.

What can be done? Awareness and research is key.

Can Alzheimer’s and thereby dementia, be prevented? There are no clear-cut answers yet but researchers are zeroing in on commonalities. For instance, the vast majority of  Alzheimer’s cases, like other common chronic conditions, probably develop as a result of complex interactions among multiple factors, including age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and coexisting medical conditions.

Risk factors, such as age or genes, cannot be changed, but other risk factors such as high blood pressure and lack of exercise usually can be changed to help reduce risk.

But it’s not always dementia. Medications, thyroid problems depression and certain vitamin deficiencies such as B12, can mask themselves and cause signs similar to dementia.

If you need help to differentiate from the normal changes associated with aging and determine if you or a loved one may be at risk or suffering from early signs of dementia, make an appointment to see your TopLine MD physician.