A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be very tough to hear. However, given its prevalence, it is important to understand not only the disease, but the Alzheimer’s disease indicators present early on. Although there is no known cure for this condition, there are ways to slow down its progression, such as eating the right foods and keeping the mind active.
Fast Facts: Nearly 50 million people suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s worldwide, with two thirds of those diagnosed being women. Care for these individuals topped $277 billion dollars in 2018, and care for each person over their lifetime is estimated to be just over $250,000.
8 Alzheimer’s Disease Indicators to Watch For
- Day to day disruption: Everyone has forgetful moments, especially as we age. However, when your loved one begins to forget dates or activities that are important to them, it may signal a problem. For instance, if they have attended church services every week for decades yet suddenly forget to go; or if they neglect to go to a favorite grandchild’s birthday party, even though they were reminded. Day to day tasks, no matter how mundane, may also become more difficult.
- Loss of ability to process what’s next : Although we don’t often realize it, our brain is continually telling us what to do next. We wake up, we brush our teeth, we go downstairs and make breakfast. When the brain is healthy, this happens almost on “auto-pilot”, but as dementia takes hold, a patient may get stuck – literally not sure what to do next. They may forget how to pay a bill or how to make their favorite recipe.
- Displaying confusion regarding time: A person with Alzheimer’s loses the ability to properly process the passage of time, and may lose the ability to keep track of the time of day, or even what day it is. They may frequently ask for assistance in orienting themselves in this regard.
- Difficulty with visual and spatial relationships: Although vision problems can occur as a part of normal aging of the eyes, similar problems can manifest because of brain deterioration. This often appears as inability to determine depth or color like they used to, and people with early onset dementia may get into more fender-benders if still driving.
- Displaying issues with the use of words: A person with dementia will exhibit increasing difficulty with conversation. They may often pause to think of the right word, or lose track of the conversation altogether – often in mid-sentence. Again, these things happen to the best of us on occasion. But when it happens more often, and with words that should not be difficult to remember, it could be an Alzheimer’s disease indicator. (For instance, they ask you to put their groceries in “that thing that keeps the food cold” because they cannot remember the word refrigerator).
- More frequently misplaced items: With an Alzheimer’s patient, misplaced items go beyond simple forgetfulness. They may put their money away in the freezer instead of their purse, or place their milk in the cupboard with the dishes. Unfortunately, they often come to the conclusion that people are “stealing their things” because they cannot remember where they put them. Retracing steps to find an item is also very difficult for someone dealing with the onset of dementia.
- Impaired decision-making. A person with dementia will begin to make decisions and judgement calls which don’t make sense – and may be dangerous. They may put on a winter coat to go outside on a summer day, or walk across a busy street without waiting for the light. The brain is beginning to lose its ability to think logically, and what may seem quirky or forgetful at first may be an early warning sign.
- Isolation from the world. A person in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease may be aware that they are forgetful or confused. This can make them feel embarrassed or unsure around people, and can cause them to self-isolate to reduce the chances of people seeing them in that state. They can also be moody or angry, and choose to be alone rather than engage with people. Staying home at this stage seems easier, as they are most comfortable with their surroundings when in their own space.
If your loved one is exhibiting any of these warning signs, be sure to get them to a doctor for a diagnosis and the help they need.
If you are looking for a safe and compassionate place for them to live after a dementia diagnosis, consider a visit to A Banyan Residence of Venice. Our memory care center staff is dedicated to the health and well-being of all our residents.