What are generally the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia, which is defined as a decline in cognitive function that interferes with daily life.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6.5 million Americans are living with the disease, and that number is expected to rise to nearly 12.7 million by 2050.
Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are often mistaken for normal age-related changes. However, there are some telltale signs that may indicate Alzheimer’s. Here are 35 early signs of the disease that everyone should be on the lookout for.
- Progressive memory loss (difficulty remembering recent events at first, slowly progress to problem remembering things that happened weeks ago, then it advances to completely forgetting an entire live event, for instance, forgetting they were ever married or had kids or the faces of their loved ones)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Confusion with time and place
- Problems with the understanding of the basic concept of things
- Problems processing thoughts
- Having problems solving simple math problems
- Finding it difficult to create new memories
- Problems recognizing common things
- Seeing blurred or faded environments around them.
- Meaningless repetition of words
- Wandering and getting lost
- Complete Change of personality
- Mood swings
- Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, and feeling something that is not physically there).
- Problem taking care of oneself
- Substituting one item for another, for example, picking an obvious can of pepper instead of sugar and pouring it into a bowl of cereal
- Forgetting important dates and events, for instance, forgetting one’s own birth date
- Having less interest and drive to do anything. Less interest in attending a social gathering
- Inability to express oneself adequately with words
- Problems with driving because of the issues remembering a familiar route
- Delusions (Thinking the nurse trying to take care of him or she is out to harm them)
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Loss of bladder control
- Having problems swallowing
- Loss of bowel control
- Weight loss because of lack of appetite
- The simple day-to-day task becomes difficult, like balancing checkbooks and reading to grandkids.
- Problems using simple appliances, for example, blenders, microwaves
- Inability to walk around alone.
How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?
There is no one test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, doctors will use a combination of medical history, physical examination, cognitive testing, and brain imaging to make a diagnosis.
What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully known, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Age is the biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. Other risk factors include family history, head injuries, Down syndrome, and smoking.
What are the treatments for Alzheimer’s disease?
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms. These treatments can help improve the quality of life for both the person with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Treatments include medication to treat specific symptoms as well as non-pharmacological approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and support groups.
How can I prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
Although there is no sure way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. These include maintaining a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy foods, exercising regularly), keeping your mind active (doing puzzles or learning new skills), and managing health conditions (such as diabetes or high blood pressure).
If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to see a doctor right away for an evaluation. Early diagnosis is essential for beginning treatment and slowing the progression of the disease.
There is no one test that can definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s, but doctors can use medical history, physical exams, cognitive tests, and brain imaging scans to rule out other possible causes of memory loss and confusion, such as stroke, tumor, depression, or medication side effects. If you suspect you or a loved one might have Alzheimer’s disease, don’t delay in seeking medical help.