Let's close out September World Alzheimer's Awareness Month by testing your knowledge of several aspects of this disease: history, prevention, symptoms, and treatment. Choose true/false for each question and then check your answers below.
- Russian physician Alois Alzheimer first described Alzheimer's disease in 1960.
- In 1976, Alzheimer's was identified as the most common cause of dementia.
- The No. 1 risk factor for developing Alzheimer's is exposure to aluminum through sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids, and antiperspirants.
- You may be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer's or slow down the process by adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and regular physical and mental exercise.
- Walking into another room to retrieve an item but then momentarily forgetting what you were looking for is a sign you may have Alzheimer's.
- A person with Alzheimer's may struggle with vocabulary or invent a name for an everyday object, such as calling a watch a hand-clock.
- In addition to memory loss, Alzheimer's may cause mood and personality changes as well as withdrawal from social interaction.
- Currently, there is no treatment for Alzheimer's.
- False. Dr. Alzheimer was German; he based his findings on a patient who exhibited profound memory loss, unfounded suspicions about her family and other mental changes in 1906.
- True. Neurologist Robert Katzman made this declaration in Archives of Neurology and referred to as a major public health challenge.
- False. While the verdict is still out on whether or not the accumulation of aluminum in human brain tissue directly contributes to Alzheimer's, it has been determined that aging is the single most prevalent risk factor.
- True. Research appears to indicate that you can reduce your risk by making simple but effective changes to your lifestyle that incorporate healthy choices.
- False. Memory loss is an early sign of Alzheimer's when it disrupts daily life. It is normal to occasionally forget a name, appointment or what you went into another room to retrieve as long as you remember it later.
- True. Other examples include mouth cleaner for toothbrush or picture stick for TV remote control. There is no need for concern if sometimes, in the middle of a conversation, you cannot find just the right word; that is a typical age-related gaffe.
- True. Suspicion, depression, and confusion are some of the conditions that may occur. A person may avoid social activities because he is aware of the changes being experienced.
- False. There is no cure at this time, but there are drug and non-drug treatments that address cognitive and behavioral symptoms. These help improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.
Alzheimer's disease is a hot topic, and these questions just scratch the surface of the information that is available. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's, I encourage you to learn all you can about the disease process. It is not an easy road to travel, but when you are prepared, you will find many fulfilling places to visit along the way.