'We all lose our keys or forget an appointment as we get older. These all can be normal signs of the aging process, but there are certain behaviors that may be the can indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s, especially if they begin to disrupt daily life. With early detection and diagnosis, more can be done to alleviate the onset and progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills.
What are the signs of dementia?
Most age-related memory problems are not signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Instead evidence of a slowdown in the brain activity processing speed that increases the time it takes to retrieve information. As we age, our brain becomes less elastic and we develop an inability to focus our attention on multiple things.
While you may be able to chalk off a few memory lapses to normal aging, there are common warning signs of Alzheimer's disease. If you or someone you love is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, talk to a doctor.
Trouble remembering things
At first, only short-term memory may be affected, with long-term memory issues developing later. People may forget an appointment or the name of a new acquaintance.
Many people lament over memory loss but can provide considerable detail regarding incidents of forgetfulness. However, they are only able to notice memory loss if asked, and being unable to recall specific instances.
Mood or personality changes
Changes in a person's basic nature or temperament aren't typical and may be signs of Alzheimer’s disease. A person who was once social may become withdrawn. Or someone who is typical cheerful may become stubborn, angry, or sad.
Depression also often co-occurs with Alzheimer's disease, causing symptoms such as:
- Loss of interest in a favorite hobby or activity
- A change in appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Lack of energy
Trouble completing ordinary tasks
Simple tasks that were performed with ease often become much more challenging. For example, forgetting how to use the oven, lock the door, or get dressed can be signs of Alzheimer's disease.
Difficulty expressing thoughts
A common sign of the signs of Alzheimer's disease is having difficulty with language. People may have trouble describing objects and refer to items such as a telephone as “that thing I call people with." Reading or writing may also become difficult.
The individual might have trouble making decisions, solving problems, or planning.
For example, they may not be able to balance a checkbook or pay bills anymore.
The following might be signs of Alzheimer's disease, especially if the behavior is out of character.
- Becoming agitated
- Hiding things
- Wearing too few or too many clothes
- Becoming overly suspicious
- Engaging in unsafe behaviors
- Using foul language
What To Do
If you are concerned that you or someone you love may be experiencing symptoms it is always best to schedule an appointment to discuss the situation with your doctor. There are many causes of dementia, including some that are reversible.
The early signs of Alzheimer’s can be subtle and often challenging to distinguish from symptoms of the natural aging process. If they continue and are conflicting with a loved one’s ability to lead a normal life, see a medical professional. With early diagnosis, treatment, and proper assistance, the progression of Alzheimer’s can sometimes be relieved.