Shots | HEALTH NEWS FROM NPR
About one in seven people 60 and older have a brain condition that may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
The condition, called mild cognitive impairment, occupies a gray zone between normal aging of the brain and dementia. And most people know almost nothing about it.
A national survey found that 82% of Americans are unfamiliar with the condition or know very little about it. More than half thought the symptoms sounded like “normal aging,” according to the survey, which was part of a special report released this week by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Mild cognitive impairment is often confused with normal aging because it is very subtle,” says Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. Symptoms include “forgetting people’s names, forgetting perhaps that you’ve said something already, forgetting a story, forgetting words,” she says.
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The condition, which affects about 10 million people in the U.S., is defined as changes in memory and thinking that are noticeable to the affected person and those around them, but not serious enough to interfere with the individual’s everyday activities.
That makes it tricky to diagnose, says Dr. Pierre Tariot, director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix.
So after talking to a patient, Tariot often asks if he can speak with their spouse, or a close family member.
A patient’s wife, for example, might notice that her husband is still managing to keep his appointments, Tariot says, then adds:
“But a year ago, he had it all locked and loaded in his brain. And now, unless he writes it down 12 times and then asks me to double check, he’s not going to get there.” … READ MORE.