If you or a loved one have been experiencing memory loss, this may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Since this disease is progressive in nature, it causes a decline in cognition over time – affecting memory, reasoning, thinking skills, behavior, and even mood.
Although there is no cure at this time, an early diagnosis can help you improve overall quality of life. There are some possible treatment measures to reduce the severity of certain symptoms and help reduce secondary symptoms, such as depression or anxiety.
Also, it’s important to receive an early diagnosis so that you have more time to effectively plan for the future. It is a tough topic of conversation and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. With that being said, the sooner a diagnosis is reached, the more support you will receive.
12 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Memory Loss
Memory loss will be the most common symptom and this will be more than forgetting an appointment or where you put your keys. When you are affected by Alzheimer’s, there are changes occurring in your brain. At this point, you may notice that you are forgetting information that you recently learned, you’re repeatedly asking for the same information over and over, or you may forget the name of your friend.
Basically, Alzheimer’s-related memory loss will interfere with your day-to-day functioning. If you are forgetting appointments, but are remembering later, realizing that you missed it – you’re probably suffering from normal age-related changes. However, it never hurts to get checked out to put your mind at ease.
- Reduced Ability to Problem Solve and Plan
Are you having a hard time staying organized – do you find yourself making plans and not being able to follow through? Individuals or their loved ones often notice that certain tasks become increasingly difficult. Are you having a hard time paying your bills? Are you struggling to follow recipes? These are all red flags and could mean that you’re experiencing mild Alzheimer’s.
- Daily Activities Become More Challenging
If you have noticed that certain day-to-day tasks are becoming challenging, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor. The last time you drove to the grocery store, did you not know how to get home? When you were knitting, did you forget what to do? Any daily task that was once completed with ease and is now a significant challenge, could mean that Alzheimer’s is in its early stages.
- Difficulty with Places and Time
Those with Alzheimer’s often feel confused, even in the most familiar places. They can become lost very easily, even if it’s somewhere they’ve been to hundreds of times. Do you forget where you are sometimes? Do you struggle to understand what day it is? It’s normal to think it’s Friday when it’s actually Thursday, especially when you realize your mistake. What’s not normal – is significant confusion surrounding time and familiar places.
- Reduced Visual Perception
Normal aging affects vision, there’s no doubt about that. With that being said, those who are developing Alzheimer’s, often experience significant changes in vision and spatial recognition. This will be more than trying to read a book and not being able to see the words. Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s often misjudge distances or struggle to see contrasting colors. This makes driving extremely dangerous.
- Language Becomes Frustrating
If you were once a sociable person who enjoyed good conversation, you would most certainly notice changes regarding language and conversational skills. In mid-conversation, do you find that you’re confused? Are you struggling to join conversations or contribute like you once did? Do you find that your vocabulary is diminishing and you can’t seem to find the right words? Have people said that you are continually repeating yourself?
- You’re Losing Things
Misplacing things is normal – everybody does it. The difference with those who suffer from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, is that they cannot retrace their steps. They may hide things in unusual places and then when they cannot find them, they’ll accuse others of stealing their possessions. Has a family member brought up this concern? Do you find that things are going missing and you have no idea where they went?
- Poor Judgement
We all make bad decisions from time to time, that’s what being human is all about. For those with Alzheimer’s, however, judgement becomes significantly affected. Are you making poor decisions that you would have never made before? Has a loved one mentioned your lack of grooming or poor hygiene? When it is -5 degrees outside, are you going out in summer clothing?
- Becoming Socially Withdrawn
Alzheimer’s can significantly affect one’s level of motivation. Have you noticed that you’re taking part in less of your favorite hobbies and sleeping more instead? Have you stopped seeing your friends or going to social gatherings? Whether this is based on the changes you’re experiencing or a lack motivation, it’s important to recognize these changes in your behavior.
- Changes in Mood
Those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s generally experience changes in both their mood and personality. Have you felt depressed, anxious, scared, suspicious, or any other change that’s not consistent with your personality? Are loved ones concerned about how easily upset you’re become lately?
- Unwilling to Try New Things
Those with Alzheimer’s will find change challenging. Were you once fairly adventurous, always up for new and exciting things? Have you now found that lately, you’re unwilling to experience new things? Do you find that adapting to change is extremely overwhelming?
- Reduced Performance
Based on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, reduced performance is inevitable. Are you still working? If so, has your performance continued to decline? Have co-workers or your boss raised concerns about your performance, especially because it’s abnormal? There are plenty of reasons why your performance levels are dropping, especially since confusion will steadily increase.
If you can relate to these warning signs, it’s imperative that you seek professional assistance as soon as possible. It’s normal to feel frightened, however, the sooner you seek a diagnosis, the sooner you can move forward and plan for the future.