With aging come many changes to a person’s mind, body, emotions and overall lifestyle and quality of life. However, the changes occurring in certain cases are not because of normal aging but instead are early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America advises, “Remember, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and it is important to look for signs that might indicate Alzheimer’s disease versus basic forgetfulness or other conditions.”
We know it can be difficult to distinguish when aging or Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of the changes you’re witnessing, so we put together this list to help you understand early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory loss can be normal with aging, but Alzheimer’s can cause memory issues that make it hard to live life on a daily basis. While an aging person might occasionally forget small things and then end up recalling them later, someone with Alzheimer’s disease is likely to forget something they just learned and important occasions. The person will ask you the same questions repeatedly, tell a story or comment again and again, and need the help of people and tools to remember basic things.
With aging, someone will generally understand whatever she was confused about after a period of time. With Alzheimer’s, a person can become confused in ways that greatly impact her life. She might not know the date, her location or other important circumstances, and be unable to recall them later without help.
Alzheimer’s disease can cause a person to put items, such as keys, in a strange place and be unable to find them again. When the person doesn’t know where the item is, he is unable to remember what he had been doing or where he had been in an effort to find the keys. This sign is more severe than an aging person sometimes not knowing where he put something but being able to figure it out.
An Altered Mood
Natural aging can make a person set in her ways and experience mood changes when she is expected to be flexible. Alzheimer’s can make mood and personality changes go to another level. When a situation makes the person uncomfortable, it can be difficult for her to control her reactions. Also, she might increasingly show signs of:
Personality changes could also include staying away from activities the person previously enjoyed and from social interactions.
Changes in Decision-Making
Older adults might not make the best choice from time to time. However, decision-making can be a sign of Alzheimer’s instead of normal aging when the person increasingly makes poor decisions and has difficulty assessing a situation.
Neglecting Personal Care
Another early sign of this disease is a consistent lack of personal care. The person might stop taking showers, brushing his teeth and wearing clean clothes. Most likely, he will not realize that he’s not taking proper care of himself.
Difficulty With Normal Aspects of Living
Aging people might sometimes have trouble figuring out their finances, thinking of what they’re trying to say or have occasional difficulty with another normal aspect of living. With Alzheimer’s the person can have trouble:
- thinking of words and understanding conversations
- figuring out what he’s seeing and how far away something is
- budgeting her finances and carrying out other normal aspects of living
- creating or following a plan
If the person has Alzheimer’s disease, you will notice these symptoms slowly progressing and coming to the forefront of the person’s life. If you see these signs, you should have a health professional who is knowledgeable of Alzheimer’s disease evaluate the person to ensure a proper diagnosis and tailored treatment. Knowing that this is the problem can help you customize treatment and care to fit the needs of patients and clients with Alzheimer’s disease in your facility or practice.