Early Detection of Alzheimer’s

RidgewoodAlzheimer Care, Dementia Care, Elderly Care, Memory Care, Senior Living

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If you or a loved one has experienced memory loss or memory lapses that disrupt their daily life, these may be warning signs of the condition called Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that triggers the slow decline of memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs to varying degrees.  Although symptoms may not have an immediate effect an individual’s daily activities and/or quality of life, don’t ignore them.  Early detection is crucial and you should see your doctor if you notice any of these signs.

Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between the normal changes that naturally occur with aging and signs of something more serious.  The Alzheimer’s Association has provided a helpful list of 10 warnings signs of Alzheimer’s disease.  In addition, they’ve listed typical age-related changes that may not be cause for concern.
Here is their list of the top 10 early warning signs of Alzheimer’s:

1.  Memory loss that disrupts daily life

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
 

2.  Challenges in planning or solving problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change?
 
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
 

3.  Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
 

4.  Confusion with time or place

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5.  Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Vision changes related to cataracts.
 

6.  New problems with words in speaking or writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word
 

7.  Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.
 

8.  Decrease or poor judgement

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Making a bad decision once in a while.
 

9.  Withdrawal from work or social activities

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
 

10. Changes in mood and personality

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
What’s a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

 

By detecting signs of Alzheimer’s early you allow more time to explore treatment options and plan for the future.  There a number of treatments out there that may provide some relief of these symptoms, allowing you or your loved one to maintain a level of independence longer.  In addition, you’ll be able to take part in the decisions about care, transportation, living options and any financial or legal matters.

 

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