Early diagnosis is crucial
Alzheimer's disease is a continuous process leading to an alteration of cognitive and behavioral functions.
It is essential to consult a doctor as soon as the first signs appear. By then, the disease might already have progressed insidiously for many years.
A clear diagnosis will allow patients’ relatives and closest social network to better understand the symptoms that occur and to anticipate the future in consultation with the patient.
An early detection of the disease allows for quicker action and for saving precious time; A precise diagnosis to prevent complications and rapid worsening!
A precise diagnosis helps choosing the most optimal management of the patient: all dementia disorders do not evolve in the same way. The coexistence of different causes that can affect cognitive abilities is frequent, a good differential diagnosis is essential.
General prevention: stimulate the cognitive reserve by playing on cerebral plasticity, namely the capacity of the brain to establish new connections when some are destroyed by the disease.
- Stimulating this reserve involves regular physical activity1, the fight against hypertension and the adoption of a diet to avoid the risk of diabetes.
Keeping up intellectual activities2 and social interactions is essential.
Secondary prevention: protecting the patient from complications.
- Falls and surgical operations: the decrease in cerebral functional reserves due to the effects of aging and the impact of diseases, particularly dementias, is exposed when the elderly suffers from surgical stress. Considering local anaesthesia where feasible reduces the risk of acute post-operative confusion syndrome or cognitive dysfunction by 50%3. Many demented states attributed to surgery are in fact cerebral neurodegenerative diseases revealed at the time of hospital stay while they evolved until then gradually without attracting the attention of family or physicians.
- Medication control: avoid mistakes in taking medication, but also vigilance on what is actually prescribed is warranted! Many medical treatments commonly used by elderly are associated with a risk of cognitive decline4.
- As a conclusion, early diagnosis is associated with numerous benefits regardless of the availability of drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Effects of aerobic exercise on mild cognitive impairment: a controlled trial. Arch Neurol 2010; 67: 71–9.
- Can Cognitive Exercise Prevent the Onset of Dementia? Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials with Longitudinal Follow-up. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 17:3, March 2009
- Regional versus general anaesthesia in elderly patients undergoing surgery for hip fracture: protocol for a systematic review. Yeung J, Patel V, Champaneria R, Dretzke J. Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 21;5:66.
- Anticholinergic effect on cognition (AEC) of drugs commonly used in older people. Bishara D, Harwood D, Sauer J, Taylor DM. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016 Jun 9. doi: 10.1002/gps.4507.