Mercy Geriatrics Expert Dr. Ernestine Wright Discusses New Research Regarding Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

January 26, 2016


According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly two-thirds of Americans with the disease are women, with memory loss as the most common symptom. But some medical experts say that memory loss isn't always the first sign of the disease.

Cassaundra Brown can attest to that as her great-aunt Alice suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

"It started subtly with changes in her personality before we had any idea what it was," Brown said. "She began to misplace things and accuse people of having come in, in bizarre ways, and found money, and had it in the ceiling. She would cook and she'd say, 'Somebody did something to my food,' and I'd visit and realize she was not cooking the same thing."

A recent study published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia reveals that memory loss isn't always the first sign of the disease, particularly in patients under the age of 60. According to Mercy internist and geriatrics expert Dr. Ernestine Wright, this research sheds light on other symptoms that could be overlooked.

"If you have a loved one, someone close to you, that perhaps has difficulty finding the right words sometimes, who perhaps has difficulty remembering names of people that we've always brushed aside as nothing, or who perhaps has difficulty balancing their checkbook, or suddenly starts behaving differently, that might be a sign of dementia," Dr. Wright said.

The study should also make physicians think differently about how they diagnose Alzheimer's.

"Perhaps making sure that patients have a speech evaluation for cognitive impairment, if they actually come into the office complaining of such problems, or perhaps expand the testing to involve problem solving as well, so that we don't ignore earlier symptoms," Dr. Wright said.

To view Dr. Wright’s interview regarding symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease and its treatment, click here.

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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