There are no easy answers when it comes to the memory loss disease known as Alzheimer’s. It can be a painful experience for everyone involved, not just the sufferer. A brain disease that causes the gradual loss of memory, reasoning and thinking skills, it is sometimes even harder on the family member watching their loved one lose his/her mental faculties, than it is on the Alzheimer’s patient him/herself. It can be scary to admit that someone in your life is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, but the faster it is diagnosed, the quicker the patient can start some brain exercises and other devices to slow the disease’s advance. Below are some warning symptoms of Alzheimer’s. If you notice them in yourself of someone close to you, it is probably time to consult a doctor.
Warning Sign #1 – Daily life is disrupted by memory loss.
Memory loss is the most common and well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s. While we all can be forgetful, those developing Alzheimer’s will frequently forget recently learned information and dates or events. Some people start asking for instructions or information over and over again, which can be frustrating for the people around them.
Warning Sign #2 – Confusing time and/or place.
While it is not atypical for aging people to get confused about the day of the week, he/she probably figures it out quickly. But people with Alzheimer’s will often lose track of not just dates, but also seasons and the passage of time. They may be confused as to where they physically are and how they arrived at that location.
Warning Sign #3 – Waning judgment.
Making a bad decision here and there is normal for anyone, regardless of age. But people with Alzheimer’s disease may begin to make more and more poor choices. They may make bad decisions when dealing with money, for example. Some will donate to charities they otherwise would not have, while others buy whatever the telemarketer on the end is selling. Some people suffering from the disease will also start paying less attention to personal hygiene and grooming.
Warning Sign #4 – Personality changes.
Sometimes people who develop Alzheimer’s start to experience changes in their personalities. This can be very disconcerting for their loved ones. Patients will sometimes get sudden mood swings and become emotional, usually angry or upset, though there has been no particular trigger. Formerly outgoing, gregarious people will start to isolate themselves and stop participating in hobbies and activities. Sadly, many develop unfounded suspicions of the people surrounding them, including family members and caretakers.
Warning Sign #5 – Trouble with planning and problem solving.
Everyone makes occasional errors, whether in figuring out the tip on a meal or balancing a checkbook. But people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will notice a pattern of increasing difficulty following plans or working with numbers. Once simple tasks like balancing a family checkbook, paying monthly utility bills, or following an old recipe become challenging. Many will develop trouble concentrating, and some will notice that what once was quick and easy is now long and hard.
Warning Sign #6 – Difficulty comprehending spatial relationships and visual images.
Many people develop cataracts as they age, or require stronger prescriptions for their glasses. This is normal. But for many people, vision trouble can be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s. This can come in the form of trouble reading, recognizing colors or contrast, and judging distances. These kinds of vision problems make driving dangerous, so if you are experiencing any of them, see a doctor promptly.
Warning Sign #7 – Challenges with words, both spoken and written.
One of the most troubling symptoms for some Alzheimer’s patients is when they start to experience new problems with speaking and writing. They find they can’t follow or join friendly conversation. They will sometimes stop speaking mid-sentence without any idea as to how to continue their thoughts. Many struggle particularly with vocabulary, finding it extra difficult to find the right word, even when it is a common one they would normally know.
Warning Sign #8 – Generally odd behavior.
While everyone may misplace their belongings here and there, Alzheimer’s patients often place objects in odd and improper places. Putting a toothbrush in the fridge, a frying pan in the freezer, or a jacket in the trashcan are all reported occurrences.
Post Contributed by Julia Dennis. Julie writes about Alzheimer’s prevention and other elder care related topics for Friendship Village.