Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that creates a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills which can cause many problems for patients and their families. Considered the most common form of dementia found in seniors, Alzheimer’s can be very frustrating for the patient as well as their caregivers due to the myriad of communications and memory difficulties that can result. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s as of yet, however, there are several treatments currently available that may help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the following ten classic warning signs may signal possible Alzheimer’s:
1. Memory Problems
People with Alzheimer’s disease will show early signs of memory problems, especially difficulty remembering recently learned information. While it’s normal to occasionally forget phone numbers or appointments, those with Alzheimer’s will gradually forget more and more and become less able to recall information later.
2. Language/Communication Difficulties
Mild difficulty communicating to others or understanding what others are saying is an early indicator of possible Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s normal to periodically have trouble coming up with the right word to express your thoughts, someone with Alzheimer’s will have much more trouble communicating and understanding what is being spoken about.
3. Lapses in Judgment
Those showing early signs of Alzheimer’s may start making unwise personal, social, or financial decisions. For example, the person might wear a heavy coat during the summer or make sexual advances toward a waiter or waitress. While it’s normal to occasionally make questionable choices, someone with Alzheimer’s may display more serioius lapses in judgment that are uncharacteristic for them.
4. Problems Completing Familiar Tasks
Individuals with Alzheimer’s will start having problems planning and executing chores like fixing meals or paying bills. While it’s normal to sometimes become sidetracked and forget where one was in the middle of an activity, those with Alzheimer’s often won’t be able to regain their bearings or follow through with a task.
People with Alzheimer’s often become disoriented with their time and place. For instance, they may be confused about the current time, day, date, month, season, and/or year. They may also be confused about where they are in regard to address, city, state, or country. While it’s normal to temporarily forget where one is headed or what day of the week it is, those with Alzheimer’s might become lost on the way to the grocery store and be unable to make it back home.
6. Decreased Ability to Think Abstractly
A person with Alzheimer’s will begin having trouble completing complex intellectual tasks, such as estimating the cost of a couple of items at the store or playing a board game. While it’s normal to periodically have trouble with things like balancing the checkbook, a person with Alzheimer’s might have consistent problems balancing a checkbook and in the later stages, he may no longer understand the meaning or purpose of the numbers in the checkbook.
7. Misplacing Objects
A common early indicator of Alzheimer’s is losing possessions and not being able to find them again, usually because the object was put in an odd place. For instance, a person with Alzheimer’s might lose a hair dryer because he put it in the washing machine and doesn’t remember doing so. While it’s normal to occasionally misplace a set of keys or a wallet, only to find them later in a logical place, a person with Alzheimer’s often won’t be able to find the item again.
8. Changes in Mood and/or Behavior
Someone with Alzheimer’s may become extremely moody, switching between emotions such as anger and elation within a matter of seconds. While it’s normal to occasionally feel down in the dumps or giddy, a person with Alzheimer’s may display these emotions for no apparent reason and shift between them unpredictably.
9. Shifts in Personality
In addition to becoming moody, individuals with Alzheimer’s will sometimes show changes in personality. For instance, someone who had always been very independent and confident might become overly dependent and suspicious. While it’s normal to occasionally not feel like ourselves, this feeling is usually temporary and doesn’t change our general behavior or the way we relate to others.
10. Apathy/Loss of Initiative
A common early indicator of Alzheimer’s is increased passivity. In other words, the person might watch television for several hours a day, be reluctant to participate in activities he used to enjoy, or sleep most of the day. While it’s normal to feel tired now and then, someone with Alzheimer’s might be apathetic to a degree that negatively affects day-to-day functioning.
Important Note: If your loved one exhibits some of the above symptoms, they may not have Alzheimer’s. Many treatable health conditions exhibit the same signs. Among them are:
–Prescription drugs interactions and side effects
–The combined effect of weight loss/gain and medications
–Vitamin B12 deficiency
–Falls and concussions
In any case, if your loved one is experiencing any of the above ten signs of Alzheimer’s, it is highly advisable to schedule an appointment with their primary care physician, as early diagnosis offers them the opportunity to seek treatment and plan for the future.
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