Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that affects the brain, causing a slow decline in both cognitive and physical functions. It is estimated that around 10 percent of the population of the US over the age of 65 has some form of Alzheimer’s or dementia, and this can cause serious issues when it comes to their care and their overall health. Catching this condition early won’t stop it progressing, and there is currently no cure, but knowing about it as soon as possible means that you can put plans in place for when it progresses to the later stages. Here are some signs to look out for when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease.
Disruptive Memory Loss
Everyone forgets things; it’s simply not possible to remember everything that has happened, or unfortunately, everything that is happening right now. That’s why making lists and writing notes to yourself is a good way to ensure that nothing is forgotten. However, with Alzheimer’s that memory loss becomes much more pronounced, and lists and notes won’t help because there will be no memory to go with them, and they won’t make sense.
When memory loss starts to disrupt everyday life, then it could certainly be a sign of Alzheimer’s. If, for example, important dates are forgotten, such as birthdays or anniversaries, that would never have been missed in the past, or scheduled medical appointments are skipped because, even though it is written on the calendar, it means nothing to the patient, then it is time to get checked out.
As the disease progresses, sufferers will forget how to drive, how to cook, how to do everyday things that they have been doing for years. This is why it is essential to have a plan in place, such as either assisted living and you can take a look at this company, a live-in carer, or move in with family members, to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.
Remember, though, that when we grow older, our memories become less reliable anyway. Simple age-related memory loss could be something like forgetting someone’s name and then remembering it later on; this is a different thing altogether.
Inability To Solve Problems
Throughout life, we will all experience challenges and issues that need to be solved, and for the most part, we can think about a good solution and implement it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the point is that we were able to step back and look at the problem objectively and then come up with a plan for it.
When someone has Alzheimer’s, this is no longer possible. Their ability to solve problems is no longer present, and they are unable to follow a plan or make one in the first place. It is something to look out for if you feel that a relative or friend might have Alzheimer’s. Take a recipe, for example. If in the past, they would have been able to follow the instruction and create a delicious dish but now they find that the ideas are jumbled up, or they don’t understand what is being asked of them, this could indeed indicate a problem that could be Alzheimer’s.
Alternatively, they may still be able to solve these problems, but it could take them a lot longer than it ever did before. This is not necessarily indicative of any form of dementia of course; slowing down both mentally and physically is all part of the aging process.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Think of all the things you do on a daily basis such as setting the alarm, getting up and brushing your teeth, making coffee, making breakfast, getting dressed for work, driving there or catching some form of public transport… the list goes on. For most of these tasks, it is likely that you barely even think about what you’re doing, it is so familiar and so ingrained.
For those who have dementia, those tasks are no longer always familiar. They might wake up and not recognize the room they have slept in for decades. They might forget how to make a cup of tea, or wonder what to do with a toothbrush. This is a definite sign that there is something very wrong and the sufferer should immediately be checked out for dementia or Alzheimer’s.
It can be a scary time for everyone involved, but especially for the patient. They will know that something is wrong because they will know that they used to be able to do things that they now can’t, and this is frightening. Be aware that if you are looking after someone who might have Alzheimer’s that you will need to redirect their thoughts and distract them. It can be a hard thing to learn, but once you know how to do it, you can keep them as happy as possible.
Confusion Over Time And Place
For those who have Alzheimer’s, it can be easy to lose track of time and place, dates and even seasons. They might have trouble with timelines in general, not being able to entirely decipher what has happened in the past and what is happening now; everything can become extremely mixed up and confused. Some may even ‘wake up’ and see that they are somewhere new without any recollection of how they got there, even if they were only just in the car or taking a walk.
This is why it is important for those with Alzheimer’s not to be on their own whenever possible. Assisted living, a carer, and friends and family can all be put in place to ensure that the confusion is as little as possible and that the patient is kept safe at all times. It’s not easy, but it is worth taking the time to come up with a plan for helping them before it is required rather than hoping for the best.
Trouble With Images
When Alzheimer’s starts to affect the brain, there can be problems with vision as well as spatial awareness. It can mean that reading becomes difficult, or that they are unable to judge distances, for example. Color and contrast can even be affected, which can have a serious impact on their physical ability, plus driving becomes dangerous. This is why many people with Alzheimer’s are no longer able to drive as it would not be safe for them or other people on the road.
The issue of driving is a difficult one; it can feel as though independence is being taken away. However, it is far better to restrict driving than to allow it and an accident happens. Be gentle and kind when dealing with this sensitive issue. In some cases, a medical professional may need to step in to let the patient know that driving is no longer possible, and this can lend substance to your ideas about the vehicle.
Before assuming that problems with vision mean that your elderly loved one or friend has dementia, make sure that it isn’t something age related such as cataracts or general deterioration of the eye. It could be something much less serious which can be treated, so consulting a medical professional is always the best course of action.
Problems With Words
Words can become a problem for those with Alzheimer’s. They may no longer be able to follow a conversation, or they might constantly repeat themselves, either because they have no memory of having already said the same thing, or because it is comforting to be able to say words that they understand when other words no longer have any meaning. If you notice your loved one stopping in the middle of conversations because they have no idea how to continue, this could be a sign of Alzheimer’s. They might have entirely forgotten what they were talking about, or they may not be able to come up with the right words to finish their point.
Again, this may not automatically point to Alzheimer’s. It’s likely that the same thing has happened to you and you’ve been distracted while speaking and then unable to finish what you were saying, or you’ve had a word ‘on the tip of your tongue’ and not quite been able to grasp it. The difference is when it happens all the time or increases in frequency.
If you are living with (or visiting) someone with Alzheimer’s you may discover some of their possessions in unusual places. You could open up the refrigerator and find a purse, or try to use the stove only to discover that’s where a missing ornament ended up. The problem is that if this is Alzheimer’s, then the person who hid the items won’t remember doing it, and they might worry that their money or wallet has been stolen. This can cause all kinds of problems including family members being accused of theft, for example, as well as being dangerous. If something is left on the stove and no one is aware, and then it is switched on, a fire could break out, and at the very least the item would be damaged.
If this is happening frequently then tracking devices can be used for purses or wallets, for example, which can locate them quickly and easily. For other items, it may be more of a case of learning where the patient tends to put things and to look there before an argument can occur.