If you are having difficulty with memory or moods, or completing tasks that you used to do easily, you should get a professional assessment. Medication interactions, infections, depression, or medical problems can sometimes mimic Alzheimer’s disease, and may be easily cured.
Most people first notice problems at the stage that is known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). MCI serves as a warning sign that you need further assessment by a trained professional. Symptoms of MCI are:
- Minor but noticeable changes in memory, mood, or judgment
- Changes in sensory perception, such as depth perception or the ability to understand what you’re hearing
MCI does not always progress to Alzheimer’s disease. Although much research is focused on the early brain changes that have occurred in people with MCI, there is currently no way to determine if MCI will progress to Alzheimer’s disease.
Advantages to Knowing
Many people feel they do not want to know if they have Alzheimer’s because there is currently no cure. However, there are advantages to getting an early diagnosis. These include:
- You can make your wishes known to family members, and complete legal powers of attorney, wills, and bequests.
- You can start having open and honest family conversations that will make future planning much easier for everyone.
- You can begin taking medications that can delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and that work better when administered in the early stages of the disease’s progress.
- You can take time to travel and to do those things you always wanted to do.
- You may want to participate in research projects that will one day find a cure.
- Knowing the truth is a powerful thing, and it can mobilize you to take action.
You should know, however, that not all primary-care physicians are skilled in accurately diagnosing cognitive disorders. The field is relatively new, and diagnosis is a complex task.
If you receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia disorder, you may want to seek a second opinion from a neurologist or geriatrician with special training in dementia.