Alzheimer’s: The Early Signs and Symptoms
June is Alzheimer’s awareness month. Though the month may be coming to an end, Alzheimer’s, unfortunately, is not. It is a disease that is increasingly impacting seniors.
The prevalence of the disease is growing. According to the Alzheimer’s Association every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s’ Disease. As of this year, an estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, the majority are over the age of 65.
What is Alzheimer’s?
As defined by the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms.” Alzheimer’s causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and cognitive skills. Even though the disease mainly impacts those over the age of 65, Alzheimer’s can also affect those younger. Approximately 200,000 individuals are living with early onset Alzheimer’s.
The disease also seems to impact women more than men and is more prevalent for those of African American and Hispanic descents.
The Ten Early Signs and Symptoms
Many different warning signs and symptoms can identify Alzheimer’s. If you notice any of the following ten items with yourself or a loved one schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Diagnosis of the disease early can help control the progression of symptoms.
- Memory Loss that disrupts daily life, meaning if you easily forget recently learned information, important dates, events, or repeatedly asking for the same information.
- Challenges in planning or problem solving can exhibit as a symptom. This symptom might mean you have trouble following your favorite recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. Concentration also becomes difficult.
- Completing known tasks at home, work, or leisure become difficult. For example, having trouble driving to a familiar location or playing a favorite board game.
- One of the significant symptoms is confusion with time or place, e.g. losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Not knowing how they got there or forgetting the location is common.
- Having difficulty seeing and understanding what you are seeing is a symptom. For example, loss of understanding spatial distance, determining colors, or contrast are identifying factors. (However, this can also indicate eye disease of cataracts.)
- Problems with speaking, writing or the ability to join conversation may indicate issues. Stopping in the middle of a conversation, repeating themselves, or using the wrong names for items can be indicators.
- Putting objects in unusual places, and not being able to retrace your steps may occur more frequently over time. The individual may also accuse someone of stealing.
- Poor judgment or decision making, such as when dealing with money or personal hygiene, can be indicators.
- Withdrawing from social activities, work, removing themselves from hobbies, can all indicate they are having issues remembering how to complete or do specific tasks.
- Changes in mood and personality, primarily exhibiting confusion, suspiciousness, depression, fear, or anxiety, can be signs.
Not all these symptoms are related to Alzheimer’s and can be related to aging. However, it is essential to be observant of changes, make a note of continued symptoms and speak to a doctor.
The Alzheimer’s Association features a great tour of how the mind usually works versus the disease, interact with the tour by clicking here.
Check out our previous article on exercising the brain to promote healthy brain functions.