Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness

It is important to help increase understanding and support around Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness for those affected by memory loss.

“Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills,” said Yvonne Teigeler, MD, Intermountain Health. “By learning more about memory loss and the needs of patients, families and caregivers can better navigate their unique challenges.”

Dr. Teigeler said that too often Alzheimer’s is identified late in the decline. “Still, people do show the decline early in small ways. The main signs are typically with short term memory.”

The most common early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s are:

  • Confusion with time or place
  • Difficulty at your job
  • Forgetting names and/or faces
  • Issues with simple processes. Such as using the coffee maker, tying shoes, etc.
  • Poor judgement

Alzheimer’s disease is most common in people over the age of 65. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia increases with age. Alzheimer’s affects about 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in 6 people over the age of 80.

There are several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

“To help prevent your risk, you want to engage in healthy behaviors such as increasing physical activity and eating a healthy diet,” said Dr. Teigeler. “You also want to try to quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.”

Experts say there are several things people can do to help stimulate their brain:

  • Exercise-this is very important and stimulates the brain and hormones
  • Learn a new language
  • Play a new instrument
  • Crossword puzzles or challenge games.

If an individual is concerned that they or a love one might be at risk, Dr. Teigeler recommends seeing your doctor. “Testing is very important, as well as working with your care team, to make sure to rule other health issues,” she said. “Depression, medications, infections can all cause memory problems – but are not necessarily cognitive decline.”

There are several exams and imaging options. These are important to rule out other problems but also to help identify and track cognitive decline. It begins with a cognitive test used that can have simple math issues, drawing hands on a clock, and others. Patients might feel apprehensive to be tested as perhaps they feel it is looking at IQ. “This is not the case. They are vital to identify several different aspects of your cognitive ability – and whether there are any trouble spots.”

Experts say if someone finds they have cognitive decline, there are steps that help slow the decline. Medications can help as well as stimulating activities.

If someone is found to have dementia or Alzheimer’s, a physician will work with them and the family on a game plan. “It is about planning the future, such as getting additional assistance, recruiting more family to help, and potential places that help once someone is unable to care for themselves anymore,” said Dr. Teigeler.

For more information on Alzheimer’s or dementia, or for care options, visit you can visit an Intermountain Health myGeneration Senior Clinic or your primary care provider.

  • For specialized primary care for seniors, choose Intermountain Health’s myGeneration Clinics.
  • We’re accepting new patients at more than 30 locations.
  • The Medicare annual enrollment period is a great time to evaluate your primary care provider team in addition to your insurance coverage to ensure that you have the best care for the year ahead.
  • Call us to find a primary care provider in your neighborhood.

For more information, visit or call 725-373-2231