Alzheimer’s Disease versus Age-Related Memory Loss

Dr. Ali Ghahary
Dr. Ali Ghahary

Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Burnaby, British Columbia, treats patients at all stages of life. Having previously served in a practice with a high percentage of elderly patients, Dr. Ali Ghahary draws on an in-depth knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of advanced age.

In its early stages, Alzheimer’s disease may closely resemble the natural forgetfulness of later life, though certain key differences are noticeable. Many older individuals report trouble forgetting appointments or the names of new acquaintances, but this manifests differently in a patient with early-stage Alzheimer’s. These patients forget new information often and frequently need to have the same information repeated multiple times.

Many older people forget the day of the week or the month, but they are able to recall this information after thinking on it for a moment. Patients with Alzheimer’s, by contrast, may lose track not only of dates but also of their sense of time. They may not be able to understand events that are not happening immediately, and they may forget the current season and even lose track of their surroundings.

Similarly, although it is normal for an older person to misplace an item occasionally, patients with Alzheimer’s may not be able to retrace their earlier steps and find where they may have laid down the item. They may accuse others of stealing the item, particularly if they are experiencing the personality changes or increased moodiness that often characterizes the disease. These social challenges, combined with a new inability to follow conversations, may make patients with Alzheimer’s disease more withdrawn, as well.

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Caring for Patients with Dementia

dementiaDr. Ali Ghahary is a general practitioner at Brentwood Medical Clinic with experience treating chronically ill and geriatric patients, including those suffering from dementia. Alzhiemer’s is the most common form of dementia affecting the brain functions, especially those concerning memory. This happens because the brain cells and connections die, affecting the ability to think coherently and remember things both in the long- and short-term. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, but there are ways to help advance the field and assist the people suffering, including both patients and loved ones.

There are multiple types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common, accounting for 60% to 80% of cases. Dementia is a term that means loss of memory and other cognitive functions, which interfere with activities of daily living. Living with any form of dementia can take a toll on the patient and caregivers. It can come as a shock, and it will be a moment of crisis where strong support is needed.

The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada is an active community-centered organization dedicated to helping those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Their focus is to provide adequate and thorough education, counseling, support, and resources for help outside the doctor or hospital setting not only to patients, but to families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals who work with Alzheimer and dementia patients.

Alzheimer Society of CanadaAdvocacy is an important role of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. They work closely with government officials and the community to push for legislative changes that will improve the programs that work towards finding a cure or better treatment for this degrading disease. The goal is to improve the care offered to Alzheimer and dementia patients, while providing the support needed to those who suffer alongside them.

Alzheimer Society of CanadaNo referrals are needed to contact your local Alzheimer’s Society of Canada chapter. Even if you are unsure if there is even a diagnosis of dementia lurking in your family, this organization can help you figure out the best healthcare providers in your area who can make a diagnosis and recommended treatment options.

Mounting research and evidence shows that the earlier the disease is caught, the better the patient and family tend to fare. There are services offered by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada that will help newly diagnosed patients and families become more familiar with symptoms and how to handle them. For example, First Link is a referral service that helps you find the appropriate practitioners; MedicAlert Safely Home is a program offered to help ensure the Alzheimer sufferer does not get lost or injured, assisting with a safe return home. On the MedicAlert bracelet is critical information about the person’s health, so as to avoid medical errors if there is an emergency.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.