We’ve covered dementia before on this blog, but we’ve never spoken about how to spot the signs of the most common cause of it: Alzheimer’s disease. Around 850,000 people in the UK have Alzheimer’s disease, however, not all of these people are in the latter stages that are most recognisable, many are in the developing stages. Because of the lack of physical signs, the condition can often go under the radar for some time, especially with the well-known symptom of forgetfulness being a natural part of ageing anyway. However, there are red flags that should be looked out for.
Forgetting Things that Are Normally Remembered
As mentioned, lapses of memory are a natural part of ageing, but they are also the most associated symptom of Alzheimer’s. However, the memory loss most people recognise are the long-term loses due to the significant and difficult emotional impact they can have when they occur.
During the early stages of the condition, however, there are certain types of memory loss that can be a strong warning sign. For example, a person in the beginnings of Alzheimer’s may forget an entire conversation rather than just some details, or they may forget they ever left the house when they spent the whole day out. This blanket memory loss instead of just minor details being forgotten can be a tell-tale sign.
Struggling to Do Simple Tasks
Memory loss isn’t the only early symptom of Alzheimer’s, another warning sign of the disease developing is losing the ability to do simple tasks. This is especially significant if it happens with things that are done every day. The habitual memories of tasks that had been developed over a lifetime begin to become harder to draw upon.
For example, a person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may be making cup of tea and suddenly lose their place in the process. This may result in them repeating the same step in the process or even losing their train of fault altogether and be unable to complete making the tea. Other warning signs of this diminishing ability to perform everyday tasks may be a change in appearance due to getting dressed becoming more difficult.
Losing Track of Where You Are
The symptom of getting lost or wandering away is normally associated with the latter stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but a version of it can appear sooner. For example, an individual in the early stages may lose their bearings when in an unfamiliar place. They may even walk into a room of their own house and fail to recognise the layout, especially if it’s been recently altered.
This losing a sense of place may not be limited to the physical either, the individual may also lose track during a conversation. Of course, this can happen to anyone, but the way in which it happens can indicate Alzheimer’s. If, for example, a person loses their place on multiple occasions in once sentence or simple cannot find the words even when it’s obvious it may be an early warning sign.
Uncharacteristic Changes in Mood
A change in mood that contradicts a person’s normal behaviour can also be a sign of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms already listed can often result in frustration and cause the person to withdraw as they lose confidence in their sharpness and lucidity. Their temper may also become shorter and result in them snapping or lashing out because of their frustrations.
Because of this drop-in self-assurance over their ability, the individual may become more reluctant to try new things or leave the house. Anxiety may also increase and they may reject the help of loved ones because of this. This can be one of the most difficult symptoms to deal with for both the person experiencing it and their loved ones.
Although symptoms such as those listed aren’t a guarantee of the development of Alzheimer’s disease, if you feel you or a loved one is showing strong signs then you should consult your doctor to get a professional opinion on their significance and how to proceed.