Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

14 medical conditions that can change your personality

Click on the embedded links for more on each disease.

(1) Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s, a type of senile dementia, affects your thinking, judgment, memory, and decision-making. It can make you feel confused and change how you act. Early on, you may be anxious or more easily annoyed. Over time, it can have more serious effects on your personality: A sweet, thoughtful person might become bossy and demanding, whereas someone who used to worry a lot or get stressed easily might become easygoing and content.

(2) Dementia with Lewy Bodies:

After Alzheimer’s, this is the next most common type of dementia. Clumps of unusual proteins, called Lewy bodies, form in the areas of your brain that control memory, movement, and thinking, thereby affecting you both mentally and physically. People who have it tend to become more passive, show little emotion, and lose interest in hobbies and other activities.

(3) Parkinson’s Disease:

While it might start as a little shakiness in your hand, Parkinson’s can eventually affect how you walk, talk, sleep, and think. Even early on, it can lead to things like obsessing over small details or a sudden carelessness. Later, you may seem absent-minded or not as social as you used to be. And it gets harder to keep your thoughts going in one direction.

(4) Huntington’s Disease:

This is an illness you’re born with, but it usually shows up in your 30s or 40s. It damages brain cells and affects every part of your life. You might have a hard time thinking clearly, or get angry to the point of hitting walls, or ignore basic things like brushing your teeth. And you may not even be aware it’s happening.

(5) Multiple Sclerosis (MS):

With this condition, your immune system attacks the nerves in your brain and spine. It can cause problems ranging from bladder issues to not being able to walk. In some cases, it can lead to a feeling of euphoria, where your happines is beyond normal and out of touch with reality. It can also bring on laughing or crying that seems out of control or not in line with how you really feel.

The thyroid makes hormones that tell your body how fast or slow to work. If it makes too much of those (hyperthyroidism), it can feel like someone stomped on the gas pedal. You might be irritable, anxious, and have big mood swings. If you don’t make enough of those hormones (hypothyroidism), your personality may seem flat. You may be forgetful and have a hard time thinking things through. It can have long-lasting effects on your brain if it’s not treated.

(7) Brain Tumor:

A tumor in your brain’s frontal lobe can affect the areas that handle personality, emotions, problem-solving, and memory. That can make you feel confused or forgetful. It can also cause mood swings, make you more aggressive, or trigger paranoid thoughts, like thinking people are “out to get you” when they’re not.

(8) Some Types of Cancer:

Tumors in the brain, spinal cord, and pituitary gland (which controls your hormone levels) can affect personality. So can adenocarcinoma, a type of cancerous tumor in cells that make mucus and other fluids which can occur in several parts of the body, including the breasts, colon, lungs, and pancreas.

(9) Stroke:

When blood flow to part of your brain gets cut off, the cells there don’t get enough oxygen and start to die. The effects depend on how long the stroke lasts and where in the brain it happens, which is why you need to get help ASAP. You might not be able to move some parts of your body, and it can change your personality in some ways. You might lose your patience more easily, have serious mood swings, or act more impulsively than you did before.

(10) Traumatic Brain Injury:

After a serious blow to the head, changes in personality can be a hidden symptom that happens over time. In more serious cases, you may seem like a different person, saying or doing things you never would have in the past.

(11) Depression:

As it comes on, this reaches into every part of your life. It not only affects your mood, but also the kinds of things you think about, your memory, and how you make decisions. It changes how you think about the world around you. It can be very different in men and women: Women often feel worthless, sad, and guilty, while men tend to feel tired, irritated, and angry.

(12) Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD):

OCD makes you feel anxious and have thoughts and urges you just can’t stop. For example, you might wash your hands over and over again. You might doubt yourself a lot and take a long time to finish simple tasks. It can get worse if someone criticizes you, because that feeds your anxiety.

(13) Bipolar Disorder:

This causes mood changes that go way beyond the normal ups and downs of daily life. When you’re up, you might feel jumpy, talk really fast, and take big risks. When you’re down, you might be worried, have low energy, and feel worthless. And sometimes, you might feel a mix of both. These intense changes can mess with your sleep and energy, and make it hard to think clearly.

(14) Schizophrenia:

This serious mental illness can make you hear voices and see things that aren’t there. You might believe things that have no basis in reality. At first, you just might not be as social as normal. As it gets worse, it can be tough to keep your thoughts on track, making it hard to even talk to people. And you may act in ways that are way out of character, hard to predict, and out of control.

Source: WebMD


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Early warning signs of Alzheimer's

Thu, 12 May 2016 13:00:19 +0000


Of late, I’ve been spending a lot of time visiting an assisted-living home — a lovely, well-maintained facility for elderly people who span the spectrum of physicial and mental disabilities, including those in hospice care.

To my shock, I discovered that a long-time acquaintance, D.V., who was the founder and editor of a Catholic journal, is a resident of the facility — in its Memory Care wing that is separated from the rest of the compound by double-doors because the patients there all have dementia. D.V. is cheerful and in good spirits, but cannot talk, nor does he recognize his family and friends.

Then there is Emily, not yet in Memory Care, but heading that way. Emily has no short-term memory, and repeatedly makes the same request to the dining room staff she’s asked just minutes ago, “Please bring me some crackers for my soup.”

Approximately 7.7 million new cases of dementia are identified every year—which amounts to one new case every four seconds.

The dreaded Alzheimer’s disease is a severe form of dementia which affects as many as 1 in 8 people 65 and older, or an estimated 5.2 million Americans in 2013.

Alzheimer’s causes nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. As the disease gets worse, brain tissue shrinks and areas that contain cerebrospinal fluid become larger. The damage harms memory, speech, and comprehension.

Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer's Disease

Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s Disease

In its first stages, Alzheimer’s may not be obvious to friends and family because it is normal for people to become a bit forgetful as they age. So how can you tell a harmless “senior moment” from Alzheimer’s disease?

Below are the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, from WebMD:

(1) Loss of short-term memory: In early Alzheimer’s, long-term memories usually remain intact while short-term memories become sketchy. The affected individual may forget conversations s/he’s just had and, like Emily, repeat questions that were already answered.

(2) Forgetting common, everyday words: Alzheimer’s disrupts speech, so the affected might struggle to remember common words.

(3) Confusion and behavior changes, such as:

  • Trouble balancing the checkbook, often one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Mood swings.
  • Lapses in judgment.
  • Poor hygiene: people who were once stylish may start wearing stained clothes and forget to wash their hair.

(4) Sundown Syndrome: Some people with Alzheimer’s get upset when the sun goes down. This tends to last through the evening and sometimes all night long. To ease tension, keep the house well lit and close the drapes before sunset; try to distract the individual with a favorite activity or TV show; switch him to decaf after breakfast.

Don’t Ignore the Signs!

It’s hard to face the thought that a loved one could have this disease, but it’s better to see a doctor sooner rather than later. It may not be Alzheimer’s as the symptoms can be caused by a highly treatable problem, like a thyroid imbalance.

And if it is Alzheimer’s, treatments work best when they’re used early in the course of the disease. Although there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s and no way to slow the nerve damage it causes in the brain, there are medications that appear to help maintain mental skills and slow the disease’s effects. If your loved one gets treatment early on, s/he may be able to stay independent and do their daily tasks for a longer period of time.

There’s no simple test for Alzheimer’s, so the doctor will use the following to diagnose:

  • Changes in memory and behaviors of the patient.
  • A mental status test, sometimes called a “mini-cog,” or other screening tests can measure the individual’s mental skills and short-term memory.
  • Neurological exams and brain scans may be used to rule out other problems, like a stroke or tumor, and they can provide other information about the brain.

Alzheimer’s takes a different path in every person. Sometimes the symptoms get worse quickly and lead to severe memory loss and confusion within a few years. For other people the changes are gradual, taking up to 20 years for the disease to run its course. Most people live 3 to 9 years after diagnosis.

In its late stage, people with advanced Alzheimer’s may lose their ability to walk, talk, or respond to others. Eventually, the disease can hinder vital functions, like the ability to swallow, signaling that this may be the time to switch to hospice care, which provides pain relief and comfort for people with terminal illnesses.

While you or your loved one is still able to make important decisions, make sure you/he/she make a will and sign an advance care directive — a legal document that will help avoid confusion later on if you’re no longer able to state your wishes by:

  • Spelling out what you want in terms of medical treatments and end-of-life care.
  • Naming someone to make health care decisions and manage finances on your behalf.

Is there anything you can do to lower your chances of getting this disease? Research in this area is ongoing, but diet and life-style (exercise; don’t smoke!) appear to be important. Studies show people who eat a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, fish, and nuts and get plenty of physical activity are the least likely to get Alzheimer’s.

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Why obesity offends God

Have you noticed how in old television shows from the 1960s, ’70s, and even ’80s, everyone looks thin?

Americans are too fat. Despite that, we are getting fatter.
A new study warns that at the rate we’re going, in 18 years, by the year 2030, more than 4 of every 10 (42%) Americans may become obese and 11% could be severely obese.

Obesity is more than being over weight. These terms are defined by the body mass index (BMI), a measurement that is closely related to both percentage body fat and total body fat:

  • “Normal weight” means a BMI of 18.5–24.9
  • “Over weight” means a BMI of 25.0–29.9
  • “Obesity” means a BMI of 30.0–34.9
  • “Severe obesity” means a BMI of 35.0–39.9
  • “Morbid obesity” means a BMI of 40 or over

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s mass (weight) by the square of his or her height, typically expressed either in metric or US “customary” units of lbs. and inches. This is the formula:

BMI = mass (lb) ÷ (height in inches)² x 703

There’s an easier way to calculate your BMI. Click here!
Nanci Hellmich reports for USA Today, May 7, 2012, that the obesity rate was relatively stable in the USA between 1960 and 1980, when about 15% of people fell into the category. It increased dramatically in the ’80s and ’90s and was up to 32% in 2000 and 36% in 2010, according to CDC data.

As of 2010, more than 1 of every 3 U.S. adults (about 36%) were obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight, and 6% were severely obese, which is 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Those percentages qualify as an epidemic.

According to CDC data, in 2010, the South has the highest prevalence of obesity (29.4%) followed by the Midwest (28.7%), Northeast (24.9%) and the West (24.1%). Mississippi has the highest obesity rate of all 50 states, at 34%. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate, at 21%.

Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity (44.1%) compared with Mexican Americans (39.3%), all Hispanics (37.9%) and non-Hispanic whites (32.6%).

Between 1988–1994 and 2007–2008 the prevalence of obesity increased in adults at all income and education levels. According to a new study led by Eric Finkelstein, a health economist with Duke University Global Health Institute, 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese, adding billions of dollars to health care costs. That means 32 million more obese people within two decades, on top of the almost 78 million people who were already obese in 2010.

The analysis was presented at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” meeting. The study is being published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Extra weight takes a huge toll on health, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea and other debilitating and chronic illnesses. (Read more on obesity-associated morbidity here.) The latest finding is that obesity also increases the risk of senile dementia! A new study published in the journal Neurology found that people who are obese in middle age are at almost four times greater risk of developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease in later life than people of normal weight.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that medical-related costs of obesity may be as high as $147 billion a year, or roughly 9% of medical expenditures. An obese person costs an average of $1,400 more in medical expenses a year than someone who is at a healthy weight, they found. Other researchers have estimated the costs may be even higher. If the obesity rate stays at 2010 levels instead of rising to 42% as predicted, then the country could save more than $549.5 billion in weight-related medical expenditures between now and 2030, says study co-author Trogdon.

More than medical costs, obesity-related heath problems also mean a reduced life expectancy. Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide. On average, obesity reduces life expectancy by six to seven years: a BMI of 30–35 reduces life expectancy by two to four years, while severe obesity (BMI > 40) reduces life expectancy by 10 years.

But there is yet another reason for us NOT to be obese:

Obesity is an offense against God who made us in His own image.

The following is taken from an essay, “Food Is Sacred,” written by Fr. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Modesto, California, May 8, 2012:

“Supersize it.” If one, six-dollar burger is good, two is better, and best of all when they are on sale, two for ten dollars! We love to eat. […] Food is essential for human life. But why, then, is food the number one killer in America? Heart disease, due almost entirely to overeating or eating the wrong kinds of foods, is our number one cause of death in America. Actually, food is a sacred gift, and so the abuse of this sacred gift is seriously harmful.

Jesus shows us how to properly order our appetite for food. Consider the Last Supper: Jesus took a little bread, and a little wine. Both are natural, wholesome foods. And this is what we do at Mass: a little bread, a little wine, which is really the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.

How we worship is how we should eat, because food is sacred.

Our market-driven culture teaches us to consume. We are told that food, as much and as often as we can get it, makes us happy. As with all lies, there is a kernel of truth in this: food does make us happy, but in right proportion. Too much food, or the wrong kind of food, makes us bloated, heavy, depressed, and ultimately kills us with every disease from diabetes to cardiac failure.

To be genuinely happy, we must discipline ourselves, as Jesus did. He took only a little baked fish (not fried fish!). He chastised his body; he restrained his appetites.

God made each of us in His own image. We therefore should treat our bodies with respect, instead of abuse. There is a reason why Gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins!

You don’t have to be a Christian or believe in God to recognize that truth. In his An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), the great Scottish philosopher David Hume thought hard about ethics and morality. To this day, Hume’s definition remains among the best definitions of what “immoral” is.
For Hume, “immoral” is whatever that does harm or injury to oneself and/or to others.

Obesity, being harmful to our health and a burden in medical costs borne by not just us but the entire medical care system, fits that definition!


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Magic Pill that fights disease and adds years to your life!

Was your new year resolution that of exercising more?
And have you already abandoned your resolution?
Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself. You are only human.
Please watch this video made by a physician. Your life depends on it!
This is what regular exercise does for us:

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, falls, fractures, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer.
  • Lowers blood pressure, improves our lipid profile, helps process glucose and insulin.
  • Improves our cognitive function, preventing the frightful Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Helps combat and prevent depression.
  • Helps our functional health — being able to do the things we used to do as we get older.
  • Increases life expectancy by 3-5 years.

If there’s a drug that can do all the above, it would be called a Magic Pill and we’d all be taking it.
Regular exercise means as little and as easy as a half-hour walk 5 days a week!
So put on your walking shoes and Take a Hike! 😀

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Take the Brain Fitness Quiz!

Do you know how to keep your brain sharp?

Do you worry about losing your mental sharpness as you age? Alzheimer’s disease is the ultimate mind and memory thief, but there are other forms of dementia, and there’s also garden-variety cognitive decline.
The good news is there are things you can do to keep your brain fit. Are you taking advantage of them? Take this short 6-question quiz to find out how much you know about preserving your mind.

Click here!

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