It’s a sad fact that so many signs of Alzheimer’s disease are left undiagnosed because the symptoms of memory loss are often misjudged as a normal part of “getting old.” Unlike normal aging, where a few forgetful moments are commonplace, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease completely disrupt a person’s daily life. In addition to memory loss, seniors living with Alzheimer’s experience a variety of cognitive and physical impairments that can in no way be considered normal.
With the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in our population, it’s more important than ever to make families aware of early symptoms of this disease. The sooner the disease is detected and diagnosed, the sooner a loved one can start receiving the proper care, including guidance in how to best plan for the future.
Until there’s a cure for Alzheimer’s, the most important thing we can do is educate everyone we can about the early signs and symptoms, so families can recognize when their loved ones need help.
Recognizing the Earliest Signs of Alzheimer’s
Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association and other prominent organizations committed to spreading knowledge and awareness of the disease, trustworthy resources are readily available for families seeking advice. The Alzheimer’s Association shares “10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s” on their website. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing symptoms beyond those of normal aging, be aware of the following conditions:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life – forgetting new information or important names and dates; relying on memory aids and frequent reminders from family members and friends
- Challenges in planning or solving problems – having difficulty making a plan and following it; having difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks – forgetting where an item is kept or how to drive to a familiar place
- Confusion with time or place – losing track of dates, seasons or the passage of time; forgetting where they are or how they got there
- Trouble with visual images or spatial relationships – difficulty reading, judging distance or determining color
- New problems with words in speaking or writing – having trouble following a conversation; finding the right words or making up new ones; stopping mid-sentence and not knowing how to continue
- Losing the ability to retrace steps – misplacing things in unusual places and not knowing how to find them; may accuse others of stealing from them
- Decreased or poor judgment – mishandling money and giving away large amounts to telemarketers; ceasing to take care of personal grooming or appearance
- Withdrawal from work or social activities – removing themselves from hobbies and social situations, either because they have trouble remembering or are embarrassed by the changes they’ve experienced
- Changes in mood or personality – becoming increasingly confused, anxious, suspicious, fearful or depressed; may be easily upset around people and places that are outside of their comfort zone
If you notice any of these symptoms recurring in your loved one’s health or behavior, you should help them make an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible to rule out other health problems and test for memory loss.
The Importance of an Early Diagnosis
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning that its symptoms get worse as time goes on. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease have helped medical professionals separate its progression into three stages: early, middle and late.
During early-stage Alzheimer’s, a loved one may not show any of the symptoms described above, or may only experience them on occasion. The individual and their family members may not even notice that anything is wrong.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the individual will begin to experience symptoms that interfere with their daily life. In the middle stages of the disease, a person may become moody or withdrawn and exhibit troublesome behaviors. They may begin to forget their own personal information or history, need help making simple decisions or experience changes in their sleeping patterns. They may be easily confused and wander or get lost. In the latest stage of the disease, the person loses the ability to respond to their surroundings or carry on a conversation.
Detecting Alzheimer’s disease early on can make it immensely easier for an individual and the person caring for them to prepare for the difficult symptoms in the middle and late stages. Being aware of a loved one’s disease can help family caregivers know how to educate themselves and plan for their loved one’s future care while their loved one can still contribute.
A Partner in the Journey of Memory Loss
Tuscan Gardens® cares for the seniors that we meet as if they were our own family. We understand the challenges of caring for a loved one, even when their only ailment is due to normal aging. But we also know from experience how difficult it can be when an older loved one starts to experience memory impairments.
Our team of specially trained caregivers and memory care experts are here to answer any of your questions or concerns about your loved one’s health. If you would like to know more about recognizing Alzheimer’s symptoms or how to care for you loved one in its earliest stages, call us today for compassionate guidance and support.