Yesil: Worrying about Alzheimer’s valid fearPublished 12:01am Friday, November 9, 2012
As America greys, many of us dread the prospect that we or someone we love will contract Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative and incurable condition that slowly robs people of memory and the ability to think or reason.
“This is not an unreasonable fear,” said Dr. Sadik Yesil, a neurologist and the newest staff addition at Andalusia Regional Hospital. Yesil has eight years of emergency room and family practice experience and another eight in neurology practice experience.
Yesil said the Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5.4 million Americans already live with the disease, and someone develops it every 68 seconds. The association predicts that as many as 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.
“But living in fear or ignoring the signs of onset, while understandable, is the wrong way to approach a possible diagnosis,” Yesil said. “For while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this point, early detection can make living with the disease easier for everyone – the person who has been diagnosed and the people who care about him or her.”
To increase early detection, doctors recommend people familiarize themselves with and watch for the Alzheimer Association’s 10 Warning Signs. If you recognize any of these signs in an aging loved one or yourself, see your doctor immediately:
• Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information repeatedly, and increasingly relying on memory aides or family members to remember things once easily recalled.
• Challenges in planning or solving problems. Those experiencing the first signs of Alzheimer’s may begin to lose the ability to follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. Concentrating may be difficult, and it may take them much longer to do things than it did before.
• Difficulty completing daily tasks. People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete familiar tasks at home or work. They may get lost driving to a familiar location, or forget how to manage a budget or follow the rules of a favorite game.
• Confusion with time or place. Another sign of Alzheimer’s is losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time, having trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately, or forgetting where they are or how they got there.
• Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some people, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.
• New problems speaking or writing words. People with Alzheimer’s often have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue, repeat themselves, struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a watch a hand- clock).
• Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Another early sign is putting things in unusual places and being unable to go back over their steps to find things they’ve lost. Sometimes, they may even accuse others of stealing their things.
• Decreased or poor judgment. Look out for changes in decision-making. For example, people with Alzheimer’s may start giving large amounts of money to telemarketers. Or they may pay less attention to grooming and keeping themselves clean.
• Withdrawal from work or social activities. Those with Alzheimer’s may start to withdraw from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports as they lose the ability to succeed in them because of the symptoms they’re experiencing.
• Changes in mood and personality. Common changes include becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious or easily upset.
To learn more about detecting Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org. If you are concerned that you or someone you love may have Alzheimer’s, please contact Dr. Sadik Yesil at 334-222-3222.