HealthDay News — Certain behavior changes may be a harbinger of Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers say they’ve developed a symptom checklist that might aid earlier diagnosis. The findings were presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, held from July 22 to 28 in Toronto.
Zahinoor Ismail, MD, of the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Canada, and colleagues have developed a symptom checklist that doctors could potentially use to assess older patients for mild behavioral problems. The checklist breaks symptoms of mild behavioral impairment into five groups.
One is decreased motivation, referring to apathy towards the things a person once enjoyed. Another describes emotional symptoms, like depression, anxiety, and irritability. A third focuses on social issues. Difficulty with impulse control is yet another warning sign, according to the checklist. That could manifest as agitation, obsessiveness, or even habits like gambling. Finally, there are issues with perception or thought content — where a person might suffer from delusions or even hallucinations.
According to Ismail, older adults may have mild behavioral impairment if they have any of those symptoms, at least periodically, for six months or more.