According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Alzheimer’s disease is a brain condition that causes a progressive decline in memory, thinking, learning, and organizing skills.” Accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases, it is the most common type of dementia among older adults.
Recognizing the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease is crucial for timely intervention and treatment. While some memory changes are a natural part of aging, certain symptoms warrant attention as they may indicate the onset of dementia.
Offering a continuum of senior living services, including memory care, in our Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, community, our team at Uplands Village is sharing the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease to watch for in someone you love.
1. Memory Loss that Disrupts Daily Life
When you hear the word “Alzheimer’s,” you may automatically think about memory loss – and that’s common. One of the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is persistent and worsening memory loss. Individuals living with this condition may forget recently learned information, important dates, events, or appointments. They may rely more on memory aids or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
Our memory does change as we grow older, but memory loss becomes a warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease when it begins to disrupt daily life and routines.
2. Difficulty in Problem-Solving and Planning
People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience challenges when solving familiar problems or making plans. For instance, they may have difficulty following a recipe or managing finances. Additionally, individuals “may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before (Alzheimer’s Association).”
3. Trouble Completing Familiar Tasks
Similar to problem-solving, individuals may find it increasingly challenging to perform routine tasks such as dressing, grooming, or driving as the disease progresses. They might forget the steps involved or the purpose of these activities.
4. Confusion with Time and Place
Those with Alzheimer’s may lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may also become disoriented and find it hard to recognize familiar places, even within their own neighborhood.
5. Trouble with Vision and Spatial Relationships
Alzheimer’s disease can affect a person’s ability to perceive and judge distance and spatial relationships. This could result in difficulty reading, judging depth perception, or determining color contrasts.
6. New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing
Individuals may have trouble finding the right words to express themselves or forget familiar words during a conversation. They may also repeat themselves frequently, ask the same question, or lose their train of thought.
7. Misplacing Things and Inability to Retrace Steps
People living with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places and find it difficult to retrace their steps to locate them. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s may put their eyeglasses in the fridge or the television remote in the kitchen cabinet. As a result, this behavior can lead to accusations of theft or paranoia.
8. Decreased or Poor Judgement
Individuals may experience a decline in judgment, such as making poor decisions regarding money, hygiene, or safety. They may become victims of scams or become less cautious in everyday situations. Another example could be as simple as wearing clothes that are not appropriate for the weather, like shorts and sandals, on a snowy winter day.
9. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities
As the disease progresses, individuals may withdraw from social and work-related engagements, hobbies, and activities they once enjoyed. This withdrawal can be due to embarrassment or a sense of confusion in social settings.
10. Changes in Mood and Personality
Alzheimer’s disease can cause significant changes in an individual’s mood and behavior. They may become anxious, agitated, suspicious, or depressed without apparent reason. They might also become more withdrawn or exhibit sudden mood swings.
It is essential to note that experiencing one or two of these warning signs does not necessarily mean a person has Alzheimer’s disease. Some memory and cognitive changes can be attributed to aging or other treatable conditions. However, if multiple warning signs are observed, you should consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease allows for better management of symptoms and access to appropriate resources and support. Lifestyle interventions and memory care options can also help slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for individuals and families impacted by dementia.
If you or someone you love is experiencing these warning signs, do not hesitate to seek medical advice and support to plan for the future and ensure the best possible care. We invite you to contact a member of the Uplands Village team to learn more about our memory care community in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee.