Key principle 1: Sudden change comes from sudden problems

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An older person that suddenly becomes confused - but was alert and oriented the day or week before - is having an acute problem such as an infection, medication side effect, stroke or even a heart attack. These and many other acute problems can be treated effectively if diagnosed properly and in a timely manner. An older person often has unusual or subtle symptoms. Confusion may be the only symptom of a heart attack in an older person. A younger person would be more likely to experience the classic symptoms of chest pressure, tightness, or arm pain. Alzheimer's disease does not come on overnight!