Alzheimer’s Disease is normally thought of as a condition that strikes in the later years of life, but in some cases, “early onset Alzheimer’s” can occur in people who are only in their 40’s or 50’s. Treatments are being explored to help Alzheimer’s patients, but no cure has yet been developed. The prospect of declining cognitive ability is a frightening one for anyone. It’s almost unbearable to think of not being able to recognize loved ones or living life in an altered reality that may be characterized by the loss of memory, mood swings, and hallucinations. Below are 10 warning signs to watch that are associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
1. Disruptive memory loss
Misplacing things from time-to-time or forgetting something once in a while is normal for everyone, but when these things start to upset the normal flow of daily life, it may be a sign of trouble. When someone begins asking the same questions repeatedly, forgetting things they were just told, and frequently forgetting important dates or events, it could indicate the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
While balancing a checkbook or following a recipe may be something that someone does normally without too much effort, someone who is developing Alzheimer’s Disease may find those activities more and more challenging. They might experience problems concentrating, and finding that it takes them much longer to complete simple tasks than it once did.
3. Routine challenges
Early stages of the disease may cause someone to forget things that were once very familiar or ingrained in their daily activities. Forgetting how to drive to or from a familiar location is common, as is losing track of when a favorite TV program is on, or having difficulty operating a common appliance like a microwave oven or washing machine.
4. Places and times
It’s pretty normal for someone to experience momentary confusion about what day of the week it is, or where it was that they bought a pair of shoes, but when someone begins to experience problems like that continually, it could be a warning sign. People who are developing Alzheimer’s will often struggle to remember what day of the week it is, or even become confused about where they are and how they got there. Memory loss can erase blocks of time, making it extremely confusing and distressing for many Alzheimer’s patients.
5. Visual imagery
There are some people who develop difficulty when properly deciphering basic visual imagery. This may not come immediately to mind when thinking about the potential symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but it is quite possible for people to have problems judging distance, reading, or identifying colors. Another alarming symptom is the lack of the ability to identify one’s self in the mirror.
6. Spoken and written communication
Someone with Alzheimer’s may begin to have problems with conversation, sometimes experiencing difficulty staying on topic or appearing to forget what they wanted to say in mid-sentence. They may also have difficulty choosing the proper word for a familiar object or come up with a nonsensical word for an object they should be familiar with.
7. Misplaced items
As mentioned earlier, it’s not unusual for someone to misplace something once in a while, but someone struggling with Alzheimer’s may do so on a regular basis. Once something has been misplaced, they often have difficulty trying to recall where they may have been recently and seem unable to retrace their steps to locate the missing object. In some cases, their confusion may even cause them to accuse others of stealing from them.
8. Declining ability to make good judgments
Alzheimer’s can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to make good judgments, which can make them particularly vulnerable to scam artists or unscrupulous telemarketers who make their living by defrauding others. This ability to make good judgments can also have an effect on things like their ability to take care of themselves, which can result in hygiene and personal grooming problems.
Oftentimes someone with Alzheimer’s will begin to show signs of withdrawal by having less interest in social interaction and activities. They may not display the same interest they once had for hobbies, entertainment, sports, or personal projects. They may also seek to isolate themselves more from other family members and show a desire to spend more time alone.
10. Personality shift
People with Alzheimer’s Disease may demonstrate personality changes and behave in ways that are not typical of them. Oftentimes they become depressed, suspicious, angry or nervous without any apparent reason. Many of them are more prone to unusual behavior when they are away from the place they feel most comfortable, typically at their home.