Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms associated with the progressive deterioration of the brain. Although memory loss is a hallmark of dementia, research shows that it may not be the “first” symptom. Most people associate memory loss with Alzheimer’s disease, but research suggests it may not be the first indicator.
This is the main finding of the systematic review that investigated the existing literature.
The researchers conducted an extensive survey of the literature – from 1937 to 2016 – in an effort to document the signs and symptoms that preceded a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers found that depression and cognitive impairment were the first symptoms to appear in 98.5% and 99.1% of individuals in the study with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and 9% and 80%, respectively, in early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory loss was introduced early and tested for 12 years before the clinically determined diagnosis of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers concluded, “The results of this review suggest that neurotic and depressive behaviors are an early occurrence.”
They noted that “the study was limited by the fact that each of the findings was based on a single study.”
Sleeping hours may increase the risk of dementia
Recognizing depression in someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging, as dementia can cause some of the same symptoms. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), examples of symptoms common to both depression and dementia include:
• Loss of interest in activities and hobbies.
• Social withdrawal.
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Poor thinking.
Depression in Alzheimer’s disease does not always look like depression in people without Alzheimer’s disease.
The AA revealed that depression in people with Alzheimer’s disease:
• It may be less severe.
• It may not last long and symptoms may come and go.
• A person with Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to talk to others.
Because the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, there’s no certain way to prevent the condition.
However, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk. Cardiovascular disease has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
So, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing these conditions – as well as other serious problems, such as strokes and heart attacks – by taking steps to improve your cardiovascular health, according to the NHS.
• stop smoking.
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
• Do at least 150 minutes of exercise each week with moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or brisk walking), or as much as you can.
• Ensure that blood pressure is checked and controlled through regular health checkups.
• If you have diabetes, make sure you follow your diet and take your medication.