Listed below are some of the most telltale early warning signs of Alzheimer’s that should never be ignored.
As previously mentioned, it’s normal to temporarily forget small details every so often, only to have the information come back later. The difference is, a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s will start to forget details more often, or forget information they just heard or read.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s will also start to display troubling difficulty with following along in conversations, keeping track of past or upcoming events, remembering people, including those who are close to them that they see often, and forgetting important details such as their home address or where they parked their car.
In the beginning, individuals might try to fight this chronic confusion and memory loss by using tactics to trigger their memory. For example, they may write down their home address in their mobile phone or leave sticky notes around the house to remind them of upcoming events. If you or your loved one seem to be struggling and exhibiting these habits more and more frequently, it’s time to see an Alzheimer’s specialist.
Everyone tends to lose, break or misplace their sunglasses, wallet, keys or other small items every now and then. But a person with Alzheimer’s will most often put things in a very odd location, then forget they even put it there. For instance, they might put their house/car keys in the bathroom sink, or leave their wallet on the washing machine.
Additionally, they’ll start to have trouble retracing their steps so they can find the item. They won’t be able to describe or recall where they were or what they were doing before losing the item. Eventually, this experience of constantly losing or misplacing things can cause your loved one to become suspicious, and they may start to get paranoid and accuse others of stealing from them.
A person with early-on Alzheimer’s may still be aware of their memory problems and become embarrassed and frustrated. These problems can then lead to depression and a withdrawal from work and social settings, which typically worsen as the disease progresses.
Watch out for significant changes in your loved one’s overall mood, mental health and social life. This can include avoiding their club meetings, acting depressed or emotionally unstable, personality shifts, seeming uninterested in work or losing drive and passion for their once beloved hobbies.
Sometimes, you feel tired or worn out and draw a blank when trying to communicate with others. There’s a word or phrase you want to say, but you just can’t remember it. However, eventually it comes to you. For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, difficulties with language start to happen quite frequently. They’ll begin to describe things in other words when they can’t remember the specific word. For example, forgetting the word closet and saying “the small broom room” instead. When this begins to happen regularly, it can be a sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
They also may start to repeat themselves often, because to them, they never mentioned it before. You’ll find that they ask the same questions that you just answered 5 minutes ago, or bring up the same stories over and over that you’ve heard many times already. Eventually, this makes it challenging to have a flowing conversation with them.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s often experience major changes in their decision-making or judgment. This can put them in serious danger of spending too much money or buying a lot of random and unnecessary things, touching dangerous and harmful objects, getting scammed by criminals, etc. If they are not being supervised, they may respond to phishing emails, accept things from strangers, or donate money to obviously fake charities.
Impaired judgment can also cause them to stop taking care of themselves or performing other essential daily tasks. For example, they may drive around with a flat tire, refuse to shower or ignore a serious medical problem and avoid making a doctor’s appointment. If your loved one is making poor decisions that aren’t in line with their typical personality, consider that Alzheimer’s may be the culprit.
Alzheimer’s can be quite devastating, especially for the patient’s relatives and friends. But there are bright, shining rays of hope over the horizon for Alzheimer’s sufferers and their loved ones. Extensive neuro-science trials and studies over recent years have been making significant progress and showing promising results in the pursuit of a cure for this difficult and often heartbreaking disease.
In the meanwhile, there are many certified mental health professionals, group therapies and special organizations who can offer effective treatments, coping strategies and support to both you and your loved one in order to improve symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.