Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the UK. The exact cause is unknown, and as there’s currently no cure, spotting symptoms as early as possible can ensure timely access to the right care and support.

According to neuroscientist Dr Ben Rein, Alzheimer’s isn’t just something you wake up with one day.

“It’s a process of brain degeneration that happens over years or even decades,” he explained on his TikTok channel.

“In many people, the earliest symptom is something called mild cognitive impairment, which is basically trouble with thinking and problem solving.

“One third of people with mild cognitive impairment will develop Alzheimer’s within five years.”

So how do you spot it?

There are three things to look out for, said Dr Rein.

1. Is there a change from baseline?

Looking back one or two years ago, was this person thinking more clearly? Dr Rein added: “Specifically, are they having trouble with memory? Things like forgetting appointments, losing things, and repeating themselves are all things to look out for.

“And keep in mind that those who start with memory problems are at much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”

2. Are the changes consistent?

Is this a daily issue or just once in a while? Dr Rein advised: “If it’s daily or every other day, it’s probably time to call the doctor.”

3. Is it interfering with their life?

Are they using workarounds to accommodate the changes in how clearly they’re thinking?

“For example,” said Dr Rein, “They used to drive on main roads, but now they take back roads to avoid accidents.

“If so, that’s also cause for concern. It’s extremely important to pay attention and identify symptoms as early as possible. Because once certain brain functions are lost, it’s unfortunately very difficult to recover them.”

Current treatments are effective at slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s, but unfortunately they can’t stop the disease or reverse it.

There’s no present screening to test patients for Alzheimer’s at a certain age, so there’s emphasis on people going to their doctors and reporting that they’re feeling different.

Dr Rein said: “For all these reasons, it’s extremely important to pay attention to your own health and the health of your loved ones and take action as early as you can.

“If you’re worried about someone, I recommend having them speak to their primary care physician who can do preliminary screening.

“As always, please take care of yourself and those around you.”

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