Have you ever walked into a room to do something and could not remember what it was that brought you there? Have you ever tried to tell someone a funny story only to forget an important point?

These events happen to most of us at some time or another. Are we suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or are we merely being forgetful for a minute or two? Based on the most current scientific thinking, these are not symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but just a normal part of daily living in a busy world.

This Thursday, at 1 and 6:30 p.m., Aletha Malone of the Alzheimer’s Association will present “Alzheimer’s disease; Getting the Facts” at the Madison County Extension Education Center. Aletha will discuss risk factors, prevention strategies, current research, financial impact and resources for caregivers.

Some of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are mild forgetfulness, difficulty recognizing familiar people or things, trouble remembering recent events, difficulty solving simple math problems, repeated behaviors such as folding items and hand washing, sleeplessness and wandering. Some later symptoms include complete loss of short- and long-term memory, severe confusion, inability to move without help and dependence on full-time care for daily living.

Although scientists are learning more every day, right now they still do not know what causes AD, and there is no cure. Factors of family history, genetics, diet, education and environment are being researched. Age is the most important known risk factor for AD. Alzheimer’s currently strikes an estimated one out of eight people older than 55. It is important to note, however, that AD is not a normal part of aging.

When thinking about preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, check with your health care provider to determine what might be your best options. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C protect the brain and may possibly play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Estrogen and ginkgo biloba may help protect the brain. Supportive care from families or nursing professionals can improve quality of life.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease requires an examination from your physician. Some things your doctor might do to diagnose the disease include asking about personal and family medical history, conducting a physical examination, performing tests for memory, problem solving, language and concentration. Your physician also may conduct Alzheimer’s disease medical tests such as blood and urine tests and brain scans.

While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are some things we can do to improve our well-being such as practicing good nutrition, getting plenty of physical activity, working crossword puzzles, reading, connecting with family and friends, enjoying nature and remaining hopeful and positive about ourselves as we age.

The Alzheimer’s program is free and open to the public. The Extension Center is located at 230 Duncannon Lane. For more information call 623-4072.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

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