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One in ten people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes issues with thinking, memory, and behaviour. The symptoms typically develop slowly and become worse over time. Often, the progression of the disease is so severe that it becomes impossible for people living with dementia to conduct daily tasks without assistance.
Scientists and doctors continue to untangle the complex brain changes associated with the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Research has shown that sometimes, damage to the brain starts at least a decade before memory and cognitive problems appear. During this pre-clinical stage of the illness, people mostly seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are occurring in the brain.
The initial symptoms of the disease vary from person to person. Memory problems are usually the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s. As it progresses, the disease starts to affect speech, problem-solving abilities, and other cognitive functions.
Are you concerned about yourself or a loved one? There are common early warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s — read on to familiarize yourself with them. If you identify even one of them, don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Memory Loss that Interferes with Daily Life
Arguably the most common sign of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in the early stage, is the inability to remember recently learned information. Some people forget important dates or events, repeat the same questions, and increasingly rely on memory aids (such as reminder notes or electronic devices), or friends and family members for things they used to handle easily on their own.
- Forgetting the names of recent friends and acquaintances
- Forgetting appointments but remembering them later
Getting help as soon as you recognize any changes in memory is critical. Consider hiring a caregiver from a home healthcare provider — Integracare specializes in dementia care and can send educated Personal Support Workers (PSWs) right to you or your loved one’s doorstep. An at-home dementia-care PSW can help individuals with early Alzheimer’s handle daily tasks such as housework, meal preparation, and remembering to take medications. The right at-home PSW can help to alleviate the stressors of early Alzheimer’s disease.
Challenges with Solving Problems
Many people who live with dementia experience changes in their ability to develop and stick to a plan or work with numbers. They sometimes have difficulty following a familiar recipe or keeping track of and paying monthly bills.
You may notice that it takes much longer to do things than before, and it’s hard to concentrate on conversations or the plot of a movie or TV show.
Confusion with Place and Time
As the disease starts to damage the brain and cognitive function, Alzheimer’s patients can begin to lose track of seasons, dates, and the passage of time. They may have difficulty understanding something that’s not happening immediately. Sometimes, people forget where they are or how they got there.
Early signs of confusion about place and time include:
- Getting confused about the day of the week
- Calling someone close to them a different name or not remembering the person — but remembering the individual later on
Also read about: [highlight color=”yellow”]Alzheimer’s Disease Causes, Stages and Treatment[/highlight]
Difficulty Completing Tasks
An individual with Alzheimer’s disease often finds it challenging to complete daily tasks. Things that were once second nature might seem unknown to a person with the illness. They may have difficulty driving to a familiar location, writing a simple grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favourite game.
Trouble Understanding Spatial Relations or Visual Images
Vision problems related to Alzheimer’s disease are different from the typical age-related issues such as cataracts. People with Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty reading, determining colour, and judging distances as time goes on.
In terms of perception, they may look in a mirror and believe that someone else is in the room instead of realizing that they’re looking at a reflection of themselves.
It can also cause changes in visual and spatial abilities. For example, individuals with Alzheimer’s can find challenges in distinguishing between food from the plate it’s on.
If you or someone you love is developing Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll start to find items in unusual places. Have you seen a set of keys among the pile of towels in the linen closet? They may also lose items and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again.
As the disease progresses, a person living with dementia may also accuse others of stealing.
If you recognize one or more of these warning signs in yourself or another person, it can be challenging to know how to proceed. It’s natural to feel nervous or uncertain about discussing these behavioural changes with others.
Voicing your worries about your health might make things seem more real. Or, you may fear upsetting someone by sharing the observations in his or her health. However, a doctor should address these significant concerns, and it’s critical to take action to put a plan in place as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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