Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the past twenty years, scientists have been working hard to unravel the often complex brain changes that are involved with the slow onset and later progression of Alzheimer’s. It is likely that the slow damage often associated with the condition starts much before the actual loss of memory and the surfacing of cognitive decline. Many people appear symptom-free during the initial stages, despite numerous toxic changes within the brain.
Brain damage in someone with the warning signs of Alzheimer’s starts to surface in many people early on often without being noticed. Now for those who have the somewhat late-onset type of Alzheimer’s disease, the warning signs will start appearing at around 65 years of age on average. However, people with early-onset will experience a decline even in their 30s. Surprising as it may sound, there are many documented cases of people with Alzheimer’s in their 30s.
The initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may vary from one person to the next. Typically, memory problems are the first ones to be reported and are considered the initial signs of cognitive decline related to the disease. Memory tends to become worse as the disease progresses. However, there is also a decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition like spatial issues, vision, finding the right words, poor judgment, memory lapses, issues solving problems, etc. Some may also experience what many doctors may label a mild cognitive impairment. Though as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, memory loss becomes worse in addition to the decline of other cognitive abilities.
There are several stages of Alzheimer’s disease, i.e., preclinical, mild, moderate, and then finally, severe or late stage.
General Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
In mild cases of Alzheimer’s, the person may appear to be healthy on the outside, but they have trouble brewing inside, so to speak. Many also find understanding their environment more challenging. A person with Alzheimer’s disease can usually tell there is something wrong, and the people around them tend to realize it later on when they see loved ones have trouble performing familiar tasks. Below are 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s:
- Loss of memory. Victims may forget common names and locations.
- Taking much longer to complete regular tasks
- The inability to make good decisions often leads to bad decisions
- The loss of spontaneity and the inability to take the initiative
- Sometimes repeating the same questions
- Problem paying bills or just handling money in general
- They may get lost frequently
- Putting things in odd places or misplacing them
- A change in personality and mood
- Often heightened anxiety and also aggression
A doctor will usually be able to diagnose a patient during the early stage of the disease, offering good medical advice based on the recommendations of the Alzheimer’s association and best practices.
What are the 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease?
A few common early signs of Alzheimer’s, as discussed above, include mild forgetfulness, which is also often attributed to being part of aging. So, if you are having problems remembering a friend’s name, for instance, and it comes to you a few minutes later, that’s not really a serious memory issue. It can’t be considered a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, if you have memory problems that affect your daily life, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Though the symptoms you experience and the number of symptoms you have will wary, it is very important to identify them early on.
Below are a few early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and often you should start by answering the below often tough questions:
Now, memory loss happens to be amongst the most common symptoms and also one that sets off false alarms. Are you forgetting information that you just learned? Do you end up losing track of names, dates, and events? Have you forgotten the major events in your life? Do you find yourself asking for the same information multiple times? Are you relying on memory aids or notes on your smartphone to be functional? If you answer yes to most of these questions, then you might be experiencing the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but you’ll still want to visit a doctor to get a professional diagnosis.
Having Issues with Planning and Problem Solving
Do you often have a problem making plans and then later sticking with them? Do you find it challenging to follow a recipe, even something you might have used multiple times? Do you find it hard to concentrate on tasks, especially ones that involve figures or numbers? For instance, can you track all bills and easily keep a check on your bank balance without getting frustrated?
Finding Daily Tasks Challenging
Even something that you’ve been doing for years may feel hard. For instance, do you have trouble finding a location you go to frequently? Are you able to complete regular tasks at work? Do you forget the rules of a game that you’ve played a lot and love? Do you have problems using common appliances like a blender?
You Find Places and Times Very Confusing
Are you able to grasp what is going on around you at the moment? Do you often feel disoriented? Are you easily lost at the mall or down the street? Do you forget where you are and do you remember how you got there in the first place?
Do you find it challenging to read certain words on the page despite wearing glasses? Have a problem judging distance correctly? Are you able to tell the colors of the rainbow apart? Knowing this is important because it can have an effect on your ability to drive. If you have any of these problems, you should stop driving at the moment and see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
You Find Conversations to Be Frustrating
Is it is hard to find words in your vocabulary. Essentially, your vocabulary may shrink which is one of the primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s. That’s why people with Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to use the right words, or they forget words. Do you also use the wrong name for everyday things?
You might also be struggling with conversations and have a problem joining in. Can you follow along in a conversation? Do you also often stop midway in the discussion because you are not sure what to say? Also, do you find yourself repeating the same thing multiple times?
Things Get Lost Easily
Sure, every one of us may misplace things from time to time, but we end up finding them too. Can you find the lost items by retracing your steps or do you have trouble remembering your steps? Do you find yourself placing things in often unusual places like maybe putting your smartphone in the fridge? Also, does this result in you ending up accusing friends and family members of picking up your things?
Lapses in Judgement or Poor Judgment
Do you find yourself making poor decisions as of late? Have you made major mistakes with money, like giving it away when you would not under normal circumstances? Do you also continue to shower often? Also, are you now taking less care of your personal hygiene or yourself, like maybe also dressing incorrectly for the weather?
Withdrawing from Your Social Circle
Do you find yourself scaling back on numerous projects at work? Are you not as involved as you used to be with your hobbies? Also, do you lack the motivation needed to work? Do you watch more television or sleep more than you otherwise did?
Changes in Mood
Are you getting upset more easily than you did? Maybe the slightest thing is triggering your anger for no reason. Also, do you feel more anxious, depressed, and scared than usual? Are you suspicious of people trying to get you, or maybe they are spying on you?
When To See a Doctor?
Now, if you notice any of the above signs, it might be time that you meet with a doctor to discuss your difficulty with daily routine tasks. A doctor should be able to scientifically evaluate your mental and physical health, after which they can provide you with a proper diagnosis.
Doctors will also usually look over your medical history and conduct a mental status test geared towards spotting issues with your memory, problem-solving abilities, and thinking. Some doctors may also do a blood or brain imaging test, depending on what the initial tests might show.
Once a doctor suspects that you might have Alzheimer’s disease, they will refer you to a specialist. An Alzheimer’s specialist is usually a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or geriatrician. You can also research specialists in your area through the Alzheimer’s Association. Regardless, it is never too soon to get a diagnosis. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start, which relieves you of the symptoms ensuring that you remain independent and social for longer.
Early treatment also puts you in a better position to plan. You can figure out your living arrangements and make the required legal decisions. The earlier you build a support network, the better off you will be later on.