Archive for the ‘Alzheimer’s symptoms’ Category

Benefits of Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Early

August 9, 2015

earlydetect1The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are so similar to those of natural aging that the disease is often diagnosed too late for effective treatment.

Individuals may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, especially forgetting recently learned information.
  • Finding it hard to follow a plan or solve problems; difficulty concentrating and taking much longer to do things than they did before.

    Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.

  • Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time; trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately; forgetting where they are or how they got there.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, including difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.
  • Trouble following or joining a conversation, struggling with vocabulary.

    Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

  • Changes in judgment or decision-making.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  • Changes in mood and personality. People can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious, or easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s but a skilled physician can diagnose Alzheimer’s with more than 90 percent accuracy. Diagnosis typically will include a thorough medical history, mental status testing and a physical and neurological exam, including blood tests and brain imaging to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms.

Benefits of early Alzheimer’s detection:

  • You can get the maximum benefit from available treatments which provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer.
  • You can increase the chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.
  • You may have more time to plan for the future in terms of your care, transportation, living options, financial and legal matters.
  • You can participate in building the right care team and social support network.
  • You and your loved ones can take advantage of available care and support services that might make it easier for you and your family to live the best life possible with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Concerned about Alzheimer’s for yourself or a loved one? Optiminds professional brain training skills center has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve memory and cognitive skills. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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Signs of Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease

July 9, 2014

Early-onset Alzheimer’s is an uncommon form of dementia that strikes people younger than age 65. While it has been known to develop between ages 30 and 40, it is more common to see someone in his or her 50s who has the disease. Of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, about 5 percent, or approximately 200,000 people, are diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Some cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s have no known cause, but most cases are inherited, a type known as familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD).

Getting an accurate diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s can be a long and frustrating process. The disease affects each person differently and symptoms will vary.

Sometimes symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to stress or there may be conflicting diagnoses from different health care professionals. It could start to show up as problems at work or home, or as lost relationships or jobs.

For most people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the early symptoms will closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Forgetting important things, particularly newly learned information or important dates
  • Asking for the same information again and again
  • Difficulty solving basic problems, such as keeping track of bills or following a favorite recipe
  • Losing track of the date or time of year
  • Losing track of where you are and how you got there
  • Difficulty with depth perception or other vision problems
  • Difficulty joining conversations or finding the right word for something
  • Misplacing things and not being able to retrace your steps to find it
  • Increasingly poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work and social situations
  • Changes in mood and personality

Because there is no one test that confirms Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis is only made after a comprehensive medical evaluation.

To keep your brain in tip top shape, our Optiminds fitness programs can help you take your brain’s performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. We also have specialists in college counseling and athletic college prep counseling on our staff. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Get Moving to Strengthen Your Brain

April 14, 2014

As we age, our brains shrink a little, but they continue to create new neurons and fine-tune neural connections as long as we are alive. So if you want to increase the new growth, start exercising.

Aerobic exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, which encourages the release of a chemical called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF stimulates the formation of new neurons near the hippocampus, which is the area involved in memory, learning and the ability to plan and make decisions. It also repairs cell damage and strengthens the synapses that connect brain cells.

In short, exercise reduces the level of brain loss, keeps us cognitively sharp and reduces our risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And regular exercise can pump up your brainpower regardless of your age. So if, for example, you are 55 years old and have never exercised, it’s not too late.

In a classic study, people aged 60 to 79 were asked to complete a six-month walking program. At the conclusion of the study, participants showed an increase in the size of the hippocampus, and levels of BDNF comparable to levels normally found in people almost two years younger.

Aim for about two and a half hours of brisk activity a week. Walking is great but if you have mobility issues, try walking in the pool, riding a stationary bike or practicing yoga or tai chi.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. Be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Study Ties Saturated Fat to Alzheimer’s Risk

January 23, 2014

brainfood1A recent study found that dietary saturated fat cut the body’s levels of a key chemical—apolipoprotein E (ApoE)—that helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Study participants who received a high-saturated-fat, high-sugar diet showed a change in their ApoE that made it less able to help clear the amyloid. If left loose in the brain, amyloid beta proteins are more likely to form plaques that interfere with neuron function, the kind of plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet also directly affected the amount of loose amyloid beta found in cerebrospinal fluid. People on a high-saturated-fat diet had higher levels of amyloid beta in their spinal fluid, while people on a low-saturated-fat diet actually saw a decline in such levels.

While this study is preliminary, it adds another small piece to the growing evidence that taking good care of your heart is probably good for your brain too. We tend to focus on diet in terms of weight and heart health, but often overlook that diet is critical for healthy brain aging. In addition, many of the things the brain needs to function properly—fatty acids and certain amino acids, for example—come only from food.

People focus on diet in terms of weight and heart health, but they overlook that nutrition can be key to cognitive function as well. According to research team member Suzanne Craft, a professor of medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Diet is a very underappreciated factor in terms of brain function. It’s quite well accepted for your heart and your cholesterol and your blood, but diet is also critical for a healthy brain aging. Many of the things the brain needs to function properly—fatty acids, certain amino acids— come only from food.”

Optiminds’ brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, and improving cognitive power and concentration. Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

The Restorative Powers of Sleep

November 9, 2013

soundsleep3We know that people who don’t get enough shut-eye have trouble learning and making decisions, and are slower to react. But despite decades of research, scientists have not been able to agree on the basic purpose of sleep, with explanations ranging from processing memory to saving energy to regulating the body.

But now, the long held assumption that sleep serves a vital function has gained new support with a recent study by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center suggesting that when we close our eyes, our brains go on a cleaning spree.

The research team had previously found a plumbing network in mouse brains that flushes out cellular waste. For the new study, the scientists injected the brains of mice with beta-amyloid, a substance that builds up in Alzheimer’s disease, and followed its movement. They determined that the potentially neurotoxic substance was removed faster from the brains of sleeping mice than awake mice.

The team also noticed that brain cells tend to shrink during sleep, which widens the space between the cells. This allows waste to pass through that space more easily.

Scientists say there is reason to think the same “housekeeping” process happens in humans. Among other things, the results may provide new clues to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other mind disorders.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

When to Worry About Losing Your Memory

November 5, 2012

Everybody over a certain age, say, around 50, has experienced “senior moments.” You can’t locate the car keys or come up with the name of someone familiar. Or maybe you stride into a room with purpose and then forget why. You’ve probably wondered—when is a memory slip of the brain nothing to worry about, and when should it trigger a question to your doctor?

Here are some are some tips on when you should and should not worry about your memory, according to Harvard brain specialist Dr. Kirk Daffner:

Normal: Your ability to retrieve the names of friends, especially those you just met recently, is reduced or slower.

Red Flag: You consistently cannot recall the names of close friends or family.

Normal: You don’t immediately recognize somebody you meet outside of their usual context.

Red Flag: You have no recollection of having met a person you know.

Normal: You occasionally do not recall an event or conversation.

Red Flag: you consistently have no memory of events, even when others give you clues.

Normal: You occasionally make a wrong turn when you think you know where you are going.

Red Flag: You frequently get lost in familiar places.

Normal: You are sometimes slow to come up with a word you want.

Red Flag: Repeatedly, a word that was once familiar to you means nothing to you.

Source: “Senior Moments: A Sign Of Worse To Come?,’ NPR: April 11, 2011

Optiminds brain fitness programs, developed by Dr. Jane Stewart, take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Find out how Optiminds programs for seniors can help you expand your cognitive capacity by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Misdiagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

June 16, 2012

Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose, even by well-meaning doctors. There is no blood test, no telltale brain scan. Even the brain anomalies common in Alzheimer’s patients are shared by those who have no symptoms at all. It is no surprise that researchers are finding as many as one-third of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are incorrect.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is about ruling out other problems, such as an undetected stroke or brain tumor, and relying on changes observed over time. Health issues such as a common urinary tract infection, a sudden change in blood pressure or depression can quickly short circuit the brain. Additional possible culprits include overmedication, reaction to medications or vitamin deficiencies. The result is acute confusion or delirium that could mistakenly be perceived as Alzheimer’s.

Some things to look for:

Delirium—This is a temporary but acute mental confusion. It involves sudden onset of symptoms such as anxiety, disorientation, tremors, hallucinations and incoherence.

Dementia—Dementia is a more permanent medical condition that disrupts brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It proceeds in stages over months or years and gradually destroys memory, reason, judgment, language and the ability to carry out simple tasks.

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s. While physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires careful medical evaluation, including:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Mental status testing
  • Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms
  • An expert evaluation by an interdisciplinary team that includes a geriatrician and neurologist

If you are concerned about your cognitive skills as you get older, check out Optiminds’ brain fitness programs, designed to take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, and improving cognitive and concentration power.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Alzheimer’s Update

April 15, 2012

In the United States, some 5.4 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Of the ten deadliest diseases in the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the only one “without a way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

At the same time, there have been great advances in understanding the disease and national policy has begun to move forward as well. In 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act mandated a national plan to coordinate research efforts to fight the disease which is predicted to impact 16 million by mid-century.

Also in 2011, new guidelines were issued for diagnosing the disease for the first time since 1984. Highlights include the following points:

  • Alzheimer’s must be viewed in three stages, with the first stage beginning long before the initial symptoms are recognized.
  • Diagnosis ultimately will include cognitive testing and general neurological assessments, along with medical tests that show changes in the brain—as opposed to relying largely  on a doctor’s judgment and reports from the patient and loved ones.

Cognitive skills are the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn. They allow us to process the huge influx of information we receive each and every day at work, at school and in life. Cognitive skills include a wide variety of abilities that are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

October 6, 2011

Most of us joke or tease about memory loss as we get older. But memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It may be one of the signs of Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.

Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees; and one symptom alone does not necessarily indicate that a person has Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you are concerned about symptoms you or a loved one are having, following is a list of some of the more common symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Money trouble
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Wandering
  • Repetitive speech or actions
  • Seemingly purposeless activity
  • Loss of initiative and motivation
  • Don’t recognize family and friends
  • Loss of motor skills and sense of touch
  • Difficulty dressing
  • Disregard for grooming and hygiene
  • Forgetting meals
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Verbal and physical aggression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clingy or childlike behavior

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.


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