In the early stages when Alzheimer's disease begins to attack, the brain does not just wait to be destroyed but fights back. This interesting fact has been detected at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where about two hundred patients have been followed during many years of memory decline, beginning ten years before the clinical Alzheimer's diagnosis. The researchers have found that memory decline is not steady but reaches a plateau, on average four years prior to the Alzheimer's diagnosis.
In the plateau years, memory stays more or less stable until a fast decline occurs that usually contributes to the diagnosis. The Mayo researchers assume that the brain, while its cells are being destroyed by the disease, is mobilizing hidden memory reserves in order to compensate the loss. As long as the compensation prevails, memory loss is stopped, but after the reserves are used up, the decline goes on all the worse.
Important: 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease
In order not to miss the plateau phase, early detection of the disease is vital. But this is not easy because the brain does its best to overcome the symptoms. The ten official warning signs are: Memory loss that affects day-to-day function, difficulty performing familial tasks, problems with language, disorientation of time and place, poor or decreased judgment, problems with abstract thinking, misplacing things, changes in mood and behaviour, changes in personality, loss of initiative. Many of these symptoms may also be caused by a depression. (Source and more detailed information: Alzheimer Society of Canada)
How to make use of the plateau
Plan your future and put your affairs in good hands: Work, retirement, money and legal matters, living arrangements, health care. Make the best of the years to come. Enjoy life with your partner. Take the trip that you always wanted - to the coast, to Paris, to Taj Mahal, ... before it is too late forever.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/inercia/541713912/