Alzheimer’s disease, primarily affecting Americans aged 65 and older, is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. As a progressive disease, it worsens over time, starting with mild memory loss and escalating until it becomes impossible to carry on a conversation or respond to environmental impetuses. As we get older, and as our parents get older, every forgotten name or place becomes a cause for concern. Is it simply old age, or could it be something worse?
Here are ten early signs and symptoms that someone you know and love may have Alzheimer’s disease:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life – Forgetting recently learned information and important dates, asking for the same information repeatedly, and needing to rely on memory aids for anything you used to handle on your own.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems – Losing the ability to follow a familiar recipe, keep track of monthly bills, or developing and implementing a plan, as well as having difficulty concentrating.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home – Having trouble completing daily tasks or locating a familiar destination that you’ve traveled to many times before.
- Confusion with time or place – Losing track of dates or seasons, or having difficulty understanding a concept of something if it’s not immediately happening, even forgetting where you are or how you got there.
- Trouble processing visual images and spatial relationships – Losing the ability to read, judge distance, and determine color or contract, causing problems with driving.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing – Stopping in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue, repeating yourself, and struggling with finding the right word to describe everyday objects.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps – Putting things in unusual places, losing everyday items without the ability to go back over your steps, and accusing others of stealing.
- Exhibiting decreased or poor judgment – Using poor judgment when it comes to handling money, paying less attention to hygiene and grooming.
- Withdrawing from work or social activities – Removing yourself from hobbies, social activities, or work projects, and avoiding being social out of being self-conscious.
- Changes in mood and personality – Becoming confused, suspicious, fearful, or anxious, or getting easily upset when you are challenged our out of your comfort zone.
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, recognizing the early signs and seeing a neurologist or neuropsychologist can slow the exacerbating of the symptoms and improve the long-term quality of life. In addition, Compassionate Care provides a full range of caregiver and support services to help make living with Alzheimer’s as easy as possible.