Alzheimer’s disease: an incurable illness that disproportionately affects the elderly. One of the leading causes of death among adults. A disease that, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, currently afflicts more than 5 million Americans.
Chances are likely that you know someone who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. An incredibly common condition, this disease is increasing in prevalence.
Considered even deadlier than cancer, Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that’s only becoming more problematic, claiming more and more victims every day. Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association report that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by nearly 90% over the last 15 years.
Unfortunately, very few people know what the early stages of Alzheimer’s look like. They are unaware of the first signs, the warnings that can hint at a growing illness.
Help yourself and your loved ones–know what signs and symptoms Alzheimer’s disease produces before it destroys more minds and more lives.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease that affects the connections between brain cells and it makes brain cells deteriorate. Over time, the illness worsens, affecting daily function more and more.
This degenerative process affects memory, reasoning and thinking skills, causing confusion, forgetfulness, and many other problems. There is no cure for the disease, so the only treatment option is to manage its progression and maintain as much quality of life as possible.
The First Signs of Alzheimer’s Can Seem Harmless
Forgetting. It’s one of the earliest and most important signs of Alzheimer’s disease. However, being forgetful is so common–just like many of the illness’s other signs.
Many Alzheimer’s symptoms may simply appear to be part of the normal aging process. Most people assume that when a person’s struggles escalate, that’s reason for concern. By the time these symptoms worsen, though, it’s far too late.
Here are the signs of a potential problem that could quickly point to the onset of Alzheimer’s.
- Memory problems. This is the most common symptom. It becomes obvious when a loved one forgets important dates and events, or requires little notes all over their house to remember tasks they could usually handle without help.
- Problem-solving troubles. When planning becomes a bit difficult and your loved one takes hours to do something simple like follow a recipe or add up a few numbers, it’s worth taking note. Struggling to think through problems that require straightforward steps can quickly become more difficult.
- Struggling with normal tasks. Doing the laundry, driving to the store, and even getting dressed in the morning are all examples of how the easiest and most innate actions become very difficult to people with Alzheimer’s.
- Losing track of time and place. When a person can’t remember how they got to the store, what the day, year, or time is, and when they begin to confuse the present with the past (or even the future), they may struggle with the concept of the passing of time.
- Eye troubles. Struggling to judge distance, see color contrasts, and asses spatial proportions is another symptom.
- Messing up words. In speaking or writing, your loved one may gradually begin to lose his or her place in conversation, repeat his or her self, use odd words for things, and struggle to follow. If your loved one is normally an articulate communicator, this is a huge warning sign.
- Making bad decisions. When your loved one makes decisions that are completely out of character, like stealing, buying unnecessary appliances or other unusual items, giving money to telemarketers, or forgetting to take care of themselves properly, this is another typical warning sign.
- Personality and mood changes. A person with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from their favorite activities and social gatherings because they feel lost, struggle to keep up, and can’t remember how to participate. They may feel frustrated and have random emotional outbursts, only to forget all about them later.
These are all troubling issues to deal with, both for the loved one who is suffering and friends and family. The loss of independence, special memories, favorite activities, and stories is a bit like a death in itself though the person is still living.
Catch Alzheimer’s Early for Better Management
If you suspect that you yourself or a loved one is struggling with any of these symptoms, get checked out to find out what the problem is. It may be Alzheimer’s–it could also be another neurological condition. The sooner you know what is going on, the sooner you can find help with coping tools, management methods, and emotional support for yourself and your loved ones.
Remember, the best plan is to stay informed. Know how Alzheimer’s can manifest in its early stages, and do your research on the latest management methods or options available to individuals dealing with this debilitating disease.