The most common question I get from people is “how did you know you have Alzheimer’s vs the normal aging process”? That is a really good question. First let me step back a little in time and educate you on some of my family history and experiences.
- When I was a child and young adult, I had two concussions. If you know anything about professional football, you may know that traumatic brain injuries can lead to dementia Alzheimers.
- I have a medical condition that causes a lack of blood flow to my brain. This also can cause Alzheimer’s/dementia.
- My Mom died from Early Onset Alzheimers and my Uncle, Great Aunt, Great Uncle, and Grandma all had dementia/Alzheimers. So I knew there was a hereditary component.
- I had genetic testing done which showed that I have two APOE4 genes, one from each parent. One gene gives you a moderate chance that you will get Alzheimer’s , two is highly likely.
Armed with this data, it lead me to the University of Florida Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute where I had testing done which confirmed the early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis. People tell me all the time who know me that they don’t see signs of it yet and that my cognitive ability seem so good. My husband who is with me all the time sees the decline. It frustrates both of us. I do still have good cognitive ability but I have had to do many things on a daily basis to compensate to ensure I can function. I do better on days where I am very active and completing items on my brain health checklist. Exercise especially seems to “clear out the cob webs”.
So what are the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s ? I exhibit 8 out of the 10 signs fairly frequently now. What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s ? What are the cause and risk factors of Alzheimer’s ? You will see I have all of them. How should you approach concerns about your memory?
Why would anyone want to get this diagnosis if there is no cure? Early detection is key for several reasons. There are a few medications (Aricept and Namenda) that can slow down the progression if diagnosed early enough). Additionally, there are some things you can do to regain your brain health if you detect it early and take these steps before your cognitive state is already too deteriorated. Also, there are clinical trials and studies underway that people can participate in and benefit from. We need people to participate so we can find a cure.
Is this diagnosis a blessing or a curse? I have mixed feelings. It definitely is NOT something I would wish on anyone, but I am glad I found out my diagnosis early. I have totally changed the way I live, from the way I eat, the amount of exercise I do, how I live my life, and how I serve God. I am executing my Alzheimer’s Business Plan of Attack. I live in the moment. I am grateful everyday. I realize every day is a gift. Life is great, and I am grateful.