Early detection of memory loss is important, said Allison Richman, Alzheimer’s educator for the Bear River Area Agency on Aging through the BRAG office (Bear River Association of Governments).If memory loss is caught early, there are a few preventative measures, such as lifestyle changes like diet and exercises, that can help maintain memory longer. Medications can also be started early on. Memory loss is a physical disease, Richman said, and should be treated by a physician. Because memory loss can be caused by so many different things, physicians will usually request a blood test to ensure a proper diagnosis.Those with signs or who are diagnosed with memory loss are often referred to the University of Utah’s Alzheimer’s clinic. Richman said the university has clinical trials on new medications and up-to-date diagnostic tools. Sometimes it is embarassing or hard for someone to admit they have a memory problem, Richman said, and family members should be on the look out for warning signs. “Sometimes it’s hard to say, ‘Dad, we’ve recognized this and we’re concerned,'” Richman said. There is often fear associated with memory loss, and Richman said family support is often needed to take the first steps toward treatment.The 10 warning signs of Alheimer’s disease include memory changes that disrupt daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completeing familiar tasks, confusion with time or place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, new problems wih words in speaking or writing, misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, decreased or poor judgment, withdrawal from work or social activities and changes in mood and personality.Cognitive assessments are free and take about 15 minutes. Testers can go to the homes of those who can’t leave home. These assessments can be scheduled by calling the BRAG office, 752-7242. Anyone with questions about memory loss or concerned about a family member can call the office for information.
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