Dementia is one of the most prevalent conditions impacting older people. Of all the forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. While there aren’t any specific treatments, early diagnosis is still crucial. This is because knowing the cause of your symptoms can reduce the anxiety that you and your loved ones feel.
Researchers have recently developed a new checklist of symptoms that could suggest Alzheimer’s disease. This could be a useful tool when it comes to aiding early diagnosis.
For years, experts have focused on mild cognitive impairment as an early warning sign of dementia. This type of disability refers to issues with memory. However, now experts have found a new concept that they’re saying is a good indication of Alzheimer’s. This innovative concept is called Mild behavioural impairment.
Mild behavioural impairment or MBE describes persistent changes in normal behaviour. These include becoming socially withdrawn, having angry outbursts, being obsessive, and suffering from anxiety. It’s these types of out of character actions that can signal that something isn’t quite right in the brain. Obviously, this is still a new tool for diagnosing Alzheimer’s early, and needs further research.
What’s been noted is that in the initial stages of dementia, it can be hard to know which condition a patient is suffering from. This is because often the symptoms can cross-over. Making it harder to get a specific diagnosis. That being said, early diagnosis of dementia in general, can be helpful regarding care and managing symptoms.
This new checklist for earlier detection can help develop a new clinical stage for the disease. As well as other dementia-related conditions. It will take the sole focus of diagnosis away from memory and onto behaviour. The aim is by using behaviour to determine whether a patient may be suffering from dementia, a diagnosis could be made sooner.
An example questionnaire asks whether the person has become aggressive, irritable or agitated. As well as whether they have developed an unrealistic belief in themselves. Another symptom could be changes to their belief in their skills or who they are. As a clinical tool, this checklist could be incredibly useful. It could even be used by families to keep track of older relative’s symptoms.
One issue that comes with this new checklist is that many of these behavioural changes could be due to other factors. These include things like getting older, becoming less independent, moving house, and being lonely.
That being said, if the behavioural changes noted in this study can help to aid earlier diagnosis, having a checklist could be a great tool. Both for clinicians and for families. As sometimes, keeping track of what’s normal for an older relative can be tricky.
We hope that this new checklist will make diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia easier. Allowing doctors to diagnose dementia more quickly. Meaning that patients can get the help and support that they need faster.
More research is needed but in time this new list could be a vital tool.