Scientists are still unraveling the complex changes occurring in the brain during the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease. It's thought that the damage to a person's brain begins more than a decade before cognitive and memory problems appear. It's during this preclinical stage of the condition that people may seem symptom-free, but toxic changes are occurring in their brain.
The Beginning of Alzheimer's Disease: What to Know
With Alzheimer's disease, understanding assisted living and its role in dealing with Alzheimer's is essential. However, there are other things to know about the disease. Damage that occurs in the brain of a person with Alzheimer's usually only shows itself when the individual reaches their 60s.
There are cases of early-onset Alzheimer's, which can begin at 30. There are lots of misconception about Alzheimer's but you should know the real facts about it.. The initial symptoms of this condition vary from one person to another, but memory issues are usually reported. Keep reading to learn more about this condition and how family members can tell if a loved one in their family may be afflicted.
1. Memory Loss
As mentioned above, the most commonly seen symptom of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss. Does the individual forget information they have just heard? Do they forget important events, names, or dates?
Have they forgotten otherwise memorable things that have happened? Are they always asking for the same information again and again? Do they have to use reminders on their phone or hand-written notes to keep track of things?
Everyone is forgetful from time to time. However, when Alzheimer's is present, these memory issues will be more frequent.
Along with memory problems, the individual may have issues making plans with someone and remembering them. It could also be hard for the person to follow a recipe they have made multiple times.
If the family of a senior notices these memory slips, it's a good idea to have the senior evaluated by a physician. The medical professional can help determine if the problem is Alzheimer's or something else.
2. Changes in Personality or Mood
It's natural for a person to slow down as they get older. An older individual may avoid larger gatherings if they cannot see or hear well. They could also give up some activities that become too physically challenging for them.
However, if a person experiences changes in their temperament or basic disposition, these aren't normal, and they are signs of Alzheimer's or dementia. For example, if a senior was once outgoing and social but is now withdrawn, it could be because of Alzheimer's. Anyone with Alzheimer's may suddenly become sad, angry, stubborn, or distrustful.
Depression often accompanies Alzheimer's disease. This can cause many symptoms, including no interest in a favorite activity or hobby, a change in the person's appetite, sleeping too much, insomnia, hopelessness, and a lack of energy. These are serious changes and may require the help of a physician for a senior to overcome them.
3. The Inability to Handle Daily Tasks or Express Thoughts
If simple tasks an individual had no problem handling on their own are now impossible, it's another sign of Alzheimer's. Some things to watch for include not remembering how the oven works, not locking the door, forgetting how to get dressed and more.
Another sign of this condition is if the individual has trouble with language and communication. The individual may attempt to describe an object instead of using its proper name. An example of this is if they call a telephone the "ringer" or an object they call someone with.
With Alzheimer's, the individual's ability to read or write is often affected. If these conditions are seen, it's best to seek a professional evaluation. Sometimes, the cause is Alzheimer's, but there could be other causes of this problem.
4. Impaired Judgment and Disorientation
Sometimes, a person with Alzheimer's may have trouble making a decision. They could also have issues making plans or solving a problem. For example, the individual may not pay their bills or balance their checkbook.
Everyone has had a moment in life where they may forget where they are going or why they walked into the kitchen. This is normal. However, someone with Alzheimer's may get lost in their neighborhood.
They could also lose track of time or the day of the week. These are signs of Alzheimer's that should not be ignored.
5. Unusual Activities
Because of the way Alzheimer's affects a person's brain, they may begin acting in strange and unusual ways. For example, the senior may wander away from their house or even hide things. Often, its unusual things that are hidden like food, money, or socks.
Examples of additional unusual activities include engaging in unsafe behaviors, wearing too many or not enough clothes, using foul language, or becoming overly suspicious of family members. These are all classic signs of Alzheimer's and should not be ignored.
Getting Help for Alzheimer's
Because of the prevalence of Alzheimer's, it is possible to find an array of resources and help regarding the condition. Today, it's estimated that over 5.8 Americans are living with this condition, and the number continues to grow. As the number increases, so do efforts by scientists and doctors to find a cure and reverse the damage this condition causes to the brain.
Remember, at this point, it's impossible to stop this condition. In many situations, no one even knows it is affecting them or someone they love until the disease is advanced. However, knowing the signs of the condition is the best way to help someone and ensure they receive the treatment and support needed.
Living with Alzheimer's
While thinking about Alzheimer's isn't something most people want to do, it's a fact of life for many. If a person notices any of the signs mentioned above in a family member, seeking a diagnosis is important.
By doing this, family members can make a plan to move forward and ensure their loved one gets the care they will need. Understanding the condition is just the first step. Knowing what to do next is something other organizations and resources can help with.