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These “Dementia or delirium symptoms outside of late stage Alzheimer’s disease can be signs of a fatal condition and require immediate medical attention,” says Forman. “Caregivers of Alzheimer’s sufferers should also remain vigilant for these as well

With experts calling Alzheimer’s an epidemic that will affect more than 100 million people by 2050, and the disease affecting more than 5 million today in the US alone, nearly everybody knows somebody battling the illness.   David Forman, President of Visiting Angels, a home care company serving Sussex County helping seniors retain their independence and families care for loved ones, offers some insight about the disease and how to distinguish it from age-related memory loss and other illnesses with similar symptoms.

Forman says the term Alzheimer’s has become so common that we often mix up the words and meanings between the disease and its symptoms.

“The term Alzheimer’s has become almost a generic term for every lapse in memory or lost set of keys, and using it so flippantly we can miss the seriousness of the actual condition,” he said.  “This past decade for example, while death rates for many serious diseases including stroke, heart disease and major cancers, have declined, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased nearly 70% over the same period.”

Forman said. “Occasionally forgetting why you walked into a room or having a habit of misplacing your phone may be an annoyance, probably caused by distraction or stress, but it’s a far cry from the almost inevitably fatal consequences of advanced dementia.  However, there’s also a danger in dismissing all symptoms as “senior moments” and failing to identify the disease while it progresses, so we would all do best to understand the differences.”

The disease typically progresses slowly in three general stages from early stage (mild) to middle stage (mild) and late stage (severe).  There’s presently no cure for Alzheimer’s but there are effective drugs that slow the progress of the disease, so early detection is critical.

Dementia is one of the most severe symptoms and usually accompany’s later stages of the disease, but other illnesses and causes can mimic dementia.

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