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Alzheimer’s and Men’s Health

by Lori Sciame November 10th, 2017 | Health Observance, Men's Health
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elderly manAlzheimer’s is a disease that causes the brain to shrink.  In essence, the disease robs one of his ability to think clearly.  An article in HealthDay Reporter by Denise Mann suggests that although Alzheimer’s affects both men and women, the disease progresses differently in each sex. She states, “men seemed to have more problems with their thinking ability when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than their female counterparts did. What’s more, men and women lost gray matter in different areas of their brain.”  While it’s too early to tell why there is a difference between the sexes, one thing remains clear: an Alzheimer’s diagnosis will greatly impact a person’s life.

The Symptoms

Men and women experience the same initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  These symptoms can be confused with regular signs of aging, but if presenting in the extreme, or if one exhibits many  negative changes in cognition, then a visit to the doctor is warranted.  WebMD outlines these symptoms:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting recently learned information like names and phone numbers.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as cooking a meal.
  • Confusion with time and place, such as forgetting where you live on your street.
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, such as problems reading or judging distance.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing, such as calling things by the wrong name or having trouble finding the right word.
  • Misplacing things and being unable to go back over your steps to find them again, like putting an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
  • Poor or decreased judgment, such as dressing improperly for the weather or giving away large sums of money to strangers.
  • Withdrawing from work or social activities, such as not wanting to keep up with a favorite sports team or favorite hobby.
  • Changes in mood and personality, such as rapid mood swings-from calm to tears to anger-for no apparent reason.

In my own grandfather’s case, bizarre hallucinations haunted him daily.  His first – a tiny fairy dancing merrily on the tip of his finger.

The symptoms listed above can be caused by another illness, such as depression, thyroid disease, or another form of dementia; however, if one experiences several of them, he should contact his physician.

The Diagnosis

Doctors will diagnose Alzheimer’s mainly by excluding other illnesses.  For instance, lab work may be done to rule out other forms of dementia.  Vision and function will also be checked.  In some cases, as CT scan and a lumbar puncture will be necessary.  Finally, family members may be quizzed as to changes in behavior.  A man needs to understand that going for help when experiencing these symptoms is a smart thing to do, as he may have something other than Alzheimer’s.

Treatment

Currently no medications exist to cure Alzheimer’s.  A doctor may prescribe a medication in hopes of slowing the disease, however. Health professionals and Alzheimer’s awareness groups can also offer hope through tips on daily living with the disease.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.