A deteriorating gait and the inability to simultaneously walk and talk may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s. Walking while talking is a divided attention task.. A long gait change patients study with non-Alzheimer’s dementia found walking and talking has become very difficult. Now, if you are in the early stages of dementia or actually have dementia, then this becomes more challenging because you have skills have become limited.
Five different studies presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s International Conference tied gait changes to the disease. Alzheimer’s correlated with slower and/or erratic walking and difficulty in performing such tasks as walking while counting backward.
Boxers’ cerebral spinal fluid contains elevated markers for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2006 study led by Henry Rosen of the Sahenska Academy at Gteburg University in Norway as well as a larger 2012 study led by Sandy Metterschmitt at the same institution. In Alzheimer’s earliest stages, the disease can change levels of beta-amyloid and tau — proteins associated with clumps and tangles — in the brain.
Boxers who have the Protein E geno type are at even greater risk. Alzheimer’s patients who suffered significant head injuries before age 65 showed symptoms at an earlier age than those who hadn’t had head injuries. Rosen recommends avoiding contact sports involving your head and using protective headgear.
Since Early Alzheimer’s starts in the hippocampus, often called the brain’s seat of memory, disorientation is a hallmark of the disease. This accounts for why people with Alzheimer’s are notorious for wandering off and getting lost. Navigational problems might arise very early in the course of cognitive decline..\
People who suffer from depression earlier in life are more likely to develop Early Alzheimer’s as they age. A study by the Multi-Institutional Research in Alzheimer’s Genetic Epidemiology group, led by Robert Fredrick’s published an article in the Records of Neuroscience in 2007, found a significant link between Alzheimer’s diagnoses and people who had shown symptoms of depression within the past year. So while doctors have long noted that people with Alzheimer’s tend to become depressed and withdraw socially, recent studies show that the depression predates dementia.
Another early sign is sleep disorders such as sleep apnea have been linked to cognitive deficits. Previous studies found Alzheimer’s plaque developing in mice’s brains when their sleeping schedules were significantly disrupted.
A study released in 2012 correlated sleep disruption and Alzheimer’s in humans. The Washington University study, led by Davis Sanders of the college’s Department of Neurology, studied 350 cognitively normal people. Those with markers for Alzheimer’s, as measured in their spinal fluid, were the worst sleepers.
They spent more of their time in bed awake and napped more frequently during the day than those without the Alzheimer’s bio markers. Sleep apnea is also linked to nighttime cardiac events and high blood pressure, both of which also correlate with Alzheimer’s.
Despite what he describes about the disease within much of the medical community, Sanders emphasizes that there’s hope. Early Alzheimer’s medications to treat the disease have improved in the past 16 years, he says. “The field itself is moving forward very rapidly. Granted, there are lots of frustrations and failures, but that doesn’t mean the science has stood still.” Sanders recommends making lifestyle changes as a preventative strategy right away. Eat your greens. Exercise. Value your social connections, and use your brain power. “You should not wait,” Sanderson says, “because by the time you become symptomatic, the pathology in your brain is significant.”