Although forgetfulness is a common sign of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study shows changes in behavior may be the first red flag signaling the onset of mental deterioration. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis is usually focused on mild cognitive impairment, but researchers are now focusing on mild behavioral impairment as an early indication of the disease.
Changes in behavior signaling Alzheimer’s disease include social withdrawal, angry outbursts, anxiety, and obsessiveness.
Researcher Dr. Zahinoor Ismail said, “We’re not talking about a blip in someone’s behavior. It’s a sustained change from their former ways of functioning. That out-of-character behavior can be the first sign of something going wrong in the brain.”
Dr. Ismail and colleagues developed a symptom checklist for doctors to use in their assessment of elderly patients for mild behavioral impairment. Although additional research is required to validate the checklist’s usefulness, the scientists hope it could be widely used to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stage.
Alzheimer’s disease is largely a brain disorder, but it spans out beyond a simple memory decline. The concept of mild behavioral impairment being a precursor to dementia is novel, though it is difficult to measure, Dr. Ismail shared.
Although the checklist still needs to be tested in clinical studies, it may prove to be a useful tool in diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article: Pain perception altered in Alzheimer’s disease.