As we age, it is not only our health that may decline; it is the mental faculties we experience. People are often warned of early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia in their family members, so they can see a doctor and seek treatment before there are many outwardly visible symptoms.
Keep in mind that these indicators don’t always mean someone will develop Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia:
Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressing neurological disease that affects the brain, marked by memory, language, and mental function problems. Dementia is a broad name for many conditions that cause similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s but are caused by other factors in the brain. Both of these conditions can be fatal.
Recognizing Early Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Looking for early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia can be difficult without an expert. You may want to consider the following when looking for early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia:
1. General Personality Changes:
People with Alzheimer’s often experience a personality change, including temperament, mood, and behavior. They may become irritable, depressed, withdrawn, and isolated from their families. There may be an apparent loss of interest in people and social interactions.
Many individuals with Alzheimer’s also have short-term memory loss, which causes them to have difficulty recalling recent happenings.
One way of spotting early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia is to look at the individual’s behavior in their day-to-day life. You may notice that they are having a harder time paying attention, concentrating, or remembering details. Here are some of these changes:
- Difficulty Retaining New Information: Individuals with Alzheimer’s might not remember things they have been taught or what they should be doing today. They may often become confused. They may also forget words, names, places, or events that have happened just days before.
- Difficulty Paying Attention: Alzheimer’s patients can become easily distracted, even by things that wouldn’t normally grab their attention, such as noises or certain colors or objects. They might become easily confused by time of day, date, time of year, and so on. Also, they may have difficulty focusing on what is currently happening in the present moment.
- Difficulty Managing Their Emotions: Patients with Alzheimer’s might appear depressed or otherwise unmotivated. They may also appear angry or overly emotional more often than usual. They may also be more withdrawn and seem to have lost their motivation in life.
Some people report that they begin to forget things more frequently, tiny details. Others have trouble following directions or concentrating on tasks. They may get lost while driving or quickly forget where they are going.
Families are usually the first to notice a change in the behavior of their loved ones. Even children may begin to feel that something is wrong.
2. Language Changes
Language problems are one of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia. People may become less clear in speaking and writing, lose the ability to understand others, or have difficulty expressing themselves. They may also have trouble finding words or choosing the right ones to use when speaking or writing. They may appear to be avoiding social situations because of their language problems:
- Forgetting What They’re Saying: Sometimes, people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia will lose their train of thought while speaking. They will then say something completely unrelated or start the sentence repeatedly from the beginning.
- Having Trouble with Spelling: The loss of memory in Alzheimer’s or dementia can result in older people missing the proper spelling. They might also forget how to pronounce words, making them difficult to understand or not saying a word at all. Often, individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia will also punctuate sentences incorrectly.
- Listening Problems: You may notice that loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia are not paying attention to you when speaking to them. Repeating what you say several times may be needed before they understand what you say. They may have trouble understanding another person speaking too fast or using a foreign accent. They also might not seem to be listening to what you are saying.
3. Changes in Apathy
While people with Alzheimer’s and dementia may become more inactive and spend less time with the people they care about, they might become more agitated, startle easily, or appear anxious. They may also develop new fears or even paranoia.
4. Changes in Sleep Patterns
During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, some people will sleep less than they used to. They may wake up at night, not remember where they are or what they were doing, be disoriented when they wake up and have a sense of panic when they try to get back to sleep — all of this makes it difficult for them to fall back asleep.
At times, people with Alzheimer’s even feel tired during the day. They may have trouble focusing and concentrating on tasks or social interactions. They may also have difficulty with some of their daily activities and even get out of bed.
5. Changes in Memory
Some individuals may experience a loss of recent memories, including those from the last few days or weeks. They can’t remember what happened yesterday or last week. They can retain the significant events of their lives but may not remember minor details, like what they had for breakfast this morning. People with Alzheimer’s disease may also have trouble committing new information to memory.
They may have problems recalling and following directions. They may find it hard to repeat items they’ve learned, or they may be unable to remember how long anything takes. As their dementia progresses, they will forget things they learn easily and no longer retain them.
Most of the time, Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms begin gradually. While there may be no specific cause for the disease, certain factors may put people at a higher risk. As the disease progresses, symptoms may get worse and more obvious. If your loved one is showing you these signs, you should make a doctor’s appointment to find out how to best deal with them.
Andrea Gibbs is the Content Manager at SpringHive Web Agency, a company that offers web design services, maintenance, and Internet marketing. She specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. She also serves as a blog contributor at Serenity Senior Care. She’s an avid personal development enthusiast and an expert in the field of health and fitness. When she’s not writing she can be found running hills or hiking trails, rooting for her favorite team (the Pittsburgh Steelers), or watching a good Netflix series.