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How to Test for Early Onset Alzheimer’s

Old woman with Alzheimer

 

Early-onset Alzheimer’s is an inherited type of dementia. Although the disease is relatively rare, it can strike people as young as 30 years old. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss, confusion and eventual loss of body function. There is no cure for early-onset Alzheimer’s, but finding it early makes it possible to control the early and middle stages of the disease and give the patient the best possible quality of life.

    • Research your family medical history and learn whether either of your parents had Alzheimer’s disease. Parents have a 50 percent chance of passing on the gene that causes early-onset Alzheimer’s. Having the gene doesn’t necessarily mean Alzheimer’s will develop, but there is an increased risk.
    • Watch for early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, particularly if a parent had the disease. People with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s often repeat themselves while speaking, lose things and seem generally forgetful. They can get lost going to familiar places and may have increased difficulty performing everyday tasks.
    • Talk to your doctor if you suspect early-onset Alzheimer’s. Sometimes, memory loss and confusion can be caused by other treatable illnesses, so the doctor will do a full physical exam, neurological tests and a mental status exam.
  • Have a brain scan (CT or MRI) done if your medical history and symptoms have patterns that indicate Alzheimer’s. Often, brain scans are normal in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but there are brain changes characteristic of dementia that might show up.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations on managing the illness if you have Alzheimer’s. Medication can slow the progression of the disease, and counseling can help with the psychological effects and help you learn ways to live with the disease. Your doctor might also recommend some lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise or social activities.

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