Have you ever noticed your elders wander and stand in one spot, and then wonder what they’d intended to do or happen to forgot often where they have kept their things? Have you been worried about your elderly loved one’s memory or cognitive skills? If yes, stress yourself no further. This might be the signs that your beloved elderly family member is experiencing the early symptoms of Alzheimer.
Everyone experiences such forgetful incidences sometime in their life, as occasional memory slips are natural. But, if it is happening frequently to your loved one, particularly aged individual, then it may be the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative condition and progressive brain disorder which is irreversible and happens to destroy the memory and thinking skills gradually, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It is characterized by the insidious onset of dementia. In fact, dementia is one of the most common causes of Alzheimer’s disease which elderly individuals suffer. The loss of cognitive functions, such as reasoning, thinking, remembering, and behavioral abilities, which happen to hamper the daily life and routine activities of an individual is called dementia. The severity of dementia ranges from the mildest to the most severe stage, where the affected individual has to depend on another person completely for his daily living and performing basic routine activities.
However, the aggregation and deposition of amyloid and tau, the two key proteins involved in Alzheimer disease (AD) pathogenesis, are estimated to begin years before the onset of cognitive impairment. The first signs of cognitive impairment only appear after a significant neuronal and synaptic loss has occurred in vulnerable brain regions.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this disease condition of Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia accounting for 60% to 80% of all known cases of dementia. In India, more than 4 million people are estimated to be suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, giving the country the third highest caseload in the world, after China and the US.
Risk Factors Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Some of the risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease are mentioned below.
- Genetic susceptibility
- Cardiovascular risk factors and disorders (e.g. cigarette smoking, midlife high blood pressure and obesity, diabetes, and cerebrovascular lesions)
- Psychosocial factors in the pathogenetic process and clinical manifestation of the dementing disorders.
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Initial Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease:
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though different people may have different initial symptoms. A decline in other aspects of thinking, such as finding the right words, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease:
Alzheimer’s disease progresses in several stages, such as preclinical, early (also called mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe).
During the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain. A person in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit the signs listed above. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses to the middle stage, memory loss and confusion grow worse, and people may have problems recognizing family and friends. As Alzheimer’s disease turns more severe, the affected individuals lose the ability to communicate. You may find them sleeping more, losing weight, and experiencing trouble while swallowing. Eventually, they need complete care.
10 Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease To Watch Out
1. Struggling With Memory Or Thinking Affecting Daily Life Adversely
Forgetting where you are and how you got there are some common symptoms of this condition. An Alzheimer’s suffer tends to struggle with memory and his thinking abilities. It’s normal for aged adults to take a little longer to remember things since many brain functions do slow down a bit with aging. But, if it seems that your loved ones often can’t remember things that happened or otherwise seems to be more confused with thinking, make a note of it. For instance, forgetting how to cook a simple meal; forgetting dates or events; repeatedly asking for the same information; relying more and more on family members or reminder notes to handle daily tasks are some of the symptoms of this condition
2. Poor Decision Making Or Inability To Plan or Solve The Problems
The behavior or situations which suggest bad decision-making abilities or requiring a longer time to do things may be another sign. Examples of the same include solving simple maths; frivolously spending money; lack of or no attention to cleanliness or grooming habits; or not noticing a safety issue like crossing a road.
3. Withdrawal or Reduced Interest in Work or Leisure Activities
Being less interested and involved in one’s usual favorite hobbies and activities can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Failing to complete work assignments, giving up hobbies, or avoiding social situations can also indicate this condition. So, pay attention if there isn’t a physical health issue interfering with doing the activity.
4. Struggling with Conversations or Repeating Oneself
Challenges with vocabulary, such as calling things by the wrong name, inability to follow or join a conversation, and repeating the same stories can be the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Has your loved one started repeating questions or stories more than they used to?
5. Reduced Ability to Learn New Concepts
Common examples of this sign of Alzheimer’s disease include having trouble with a new kitchen appliance or gadget or difficulty in learning a new recipe. This can be tricky to decide, given that the gadgets become more complicated every year. But, if you’ve noticed anything, jot it down.
6. Trouble Managing Money and Finances
Common examples of this symptom of Alzheimer’s disease include having trouble paying bills on time, struggling to balance the checkbook, or otherwise having more difficulty than one used to have managing finances.
7. Trouble Keeping Track with Appointments and Commitments
If you’ve noticed that your loved one is having more trouble keeping a track of appointments and plans, make a note of it.
8. Mood Swings
Alzheimer’s can produce anxiety, confusion, depression, or suspicion. It can make people upset much more easily, particularly when they’re away from home.
9. Vision Problems
Having difficulty identifying colors or contrasts, difficulty in judging distance or trouble in reading can be the signs of this condition. Poor driving may result due to it.
10. Misplacing The Things
Putting items in unusual places, struggling to retrace steps to look for a lost item, and, in some cases, accusing others of stealing can be the sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Also Read: Am I at Risk for Alzheimer’s?
If you’re worried that your loved ones might have Alzheimer’s, look for the above-mentioned signs. And, if you observe any of these signs affecting your loved ones, make sure you consult a good doctor as soon as possible for the right treatment.
-Written by Dr. Falak K., Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah