Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It’s a chronic, degenerative condition that includes symptoms such as memory loss, forgetfulness, and confusion. Each person’s experience with Alzheimer’s is unique, and while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and may improve quality of life.
11 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease impairs the functionality of the brain. It leads to physical decline and eventually complete dependence.
The disease can be sporadic or familial. Sporadic Alzheimer’s (the most common form of the disease) can affect adults at any age, but most often occurs after the age of 65. Familial Alzheimer’s is a very rare genetic condition caused by mutated genes and usually develops when people are in their 40s and 50s.
On average, people live with Alzheimer’s for seven to ten years.
Signs of Alzheimer’s
The biggest risk factor for having Alzheimer’s disease is age, with some forms of dementia affecting three in ten people over the age of 85. The onset of Alzheimer’s is usually gradual, and the disease progresses at different rates.
There is no single test used to diagnose Alzheimer’s and consultation with a medical professional is important in this process. If you’re concerned about a loved one, there are some early signs of Alzheimer’s you can look out for.
1. Repeating themselves in conversation
One of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s is lapses in memory. This is more than just occasionally forgetting a word, though. This involves frequent repetition of information in conversations or repeating a story that was already told only a few minutes ago. It can also present as vagueness in conversation.
2. Persistent and frequent memory difficulties
Another common symptom related to memory lapses is frequently forgetting well-known people or place names. Occasionally getting mixed up or forgetting names is common with old age. In fact, we probably all do this from time to do. Early signs of Alzheimer’s, though, is when these memory difficulties disrupt everyday life.
3. Confusion with time
Those suffering Alzheimer’s may often become confused with time. They may not know what day it is or have difficulty in planning for events and appointments. People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They might also forget where they are or how they got there.
4. Loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
A sudden withdrawal from people and events is a common early symptom of Alzheimer’s. Social occasions become overwhelming and confusing for sufferers, so they withdraw from these types of events. They may spend more time sleeping or watching television than usual.
5. Taking longer to do routine tasks
Routine tasks become more difficult to do because of confusion, lack of enthusiasm, and difficulties with managing time. Forgetting how to make coffee in the morning, having trouble figuring out what to wear, or forgetting how to tie shoelaces could all be indicators that these routine tasks are becoming challenging.
6. Losing items
Misplacing keys is something most of us do frequently. Alzheimer’s sufferers, however, frequently misplace items and later find them in unusual places. They may become agitated and accuse others of stealing their items before they are found again.
7. Emotional unpredictability
A common early sign of Alzheimer’s is unpredictability with emotions. They might become confused, suspicious, depressed or anxious. They may become easily upset in regular environments or situations.
8. Deterioration of social skills
A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, they may have trouble engaging in a conversation with people. This may result in them withdrawing more from social activities.
9. Impaired decision-making and judgment
An unusual or rash decision may also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. For example, a parent selling their home without telling anyone else in the family or giving away family jewellery to the cleaner. Other unusual behaviour, such as going for a walk wearing pyjamas, may also be a sign.
10. Vision problems
Vision problems can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Words become harder to read on the page, there can be difficulties in judging distance, and determining colour or contrast. This can become problematic when driving.
11. Difficulty in finding the right words
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words. This makes sentences difficult to understand.
How Focused Health Care can help
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or you think they require extra assistance at home, we can help. We provide in-home aged care and registered nursing services for a range of conditions.
Contact us on 1300 201 351 to see how we can help.