Identifying Alzheimer’s – I

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease typically develop quite slowly.  The time between the onset of the disease and death can range from five to 20 years. The types of behavior change, and the time over which symptoms develop, are different for each person. 

Here are some warning signs and symptoms for Alzheimer’s. If you notice any of the following, don’t ignore them.

1 Memory impairment

This is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information.  Initially, only short-term memory is impaired, and the person merely seems forgetful.  Forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same questions over and over, and increasingly need to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own are some of the tell-tale signs to look out for.

2 Decline in cognitive abilities

These are the “thinking” activities of reasoning, making decisions, exercising judgment, and so on. The person shows poor performance in an activity they once did well. This leads to poor judgment and lack of insight which causes accidents. Physical hygiene also becomes less of a concern. The individual may experience a rapid decline in bathing frequency and a lack of willingness to change clothing on a daily basis. 

3 Challenges in planning

It may become more apparent if the person has difficulty developing and following a plan of action. Working with numbers may also become difficult. This can often be seen when they begin to demonstrate problems maintaining monthly bills or a checkbook.

4 Difficulty determining time or place

Losing track of dates and misunderstanding the passage of time as it occurs are also two common symptoms. People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. Planning for future events can become difficult since they aren’t immediately occurring.

5 Trouble understanding visuals

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving. This is unlike a typical age-related change related to cataracts.

6 Difficulty finding the right words

Aphasia – This medical term describes an impairment in using and understanding language. Typically, aphasia begins with word-finding difficulties. Unable to think of the right words, a person may try to cover up with long-winded descriptions that fail to reach the point, or he or she may angrily refuse to discuss the matter further. The person may struggle, stringing phrases together without expressing any real thought, or may forget all but a few words. Because of this, repetitive conversations can occur. 

More symptoms commonly experienced during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease continue in the next post.

Contd. Identifying Alzheimer’s – II

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