How do you know if that forgetfulness you’ve had is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, or just normal aging?
You may forget the occasional name or sometimes have trouble thinking of the right word to use. Maybe you walk into another room and wonder what you were looking for. Is it Alzheimer’s, aging, or just plain being distracted, doing one thing while you’re thinking of another?
There are signs to look out for, signs that tell you it’s time to get to the specialist and get checked out. Treatments for Alzheimer’s disease work best in the early stages so it’s vitally important to get an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis and early treatment can give you more years of normal functioning, and save you and your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Warning Signs
Memory Loss: We all forget things like appointments, names, and phone numbers occasionally, and that’s normal. Forgetting freshly learned information more often can be a warning sign though.
Communication Problems: Having trouble finding the right word is not unusual, but the Alzheimer’s sufferer often forgets simple words and may use unusual words or strange descriptions. A camera may become “that box that makes pictures”.
Problems with everyday tasks: A person with Alzheimer’s disease can start having trouble doing jobs or hobbies that they’ve had many years of experience with. For example, they may be halfway through their favourite recipe and forget how to finish it though they’ve done it many times before.
Misplacing Things: This isn’t the normal losing the car keys, but more like putting things in unusual places such as the ice-cream in the oven, or clothes in the dishwasher.
Disorientation: A person with Alzheimer’s disease can get lost in their own street or stay sitting at the bus station because they can’t remember where they were going. They may not remember how to get home.
Impaired Judgement: Wearing a thick jacket on a blazing hot day or a swimsuit in the middle of winter could be a sign of dementia. Having poor judgement with money can be a symptom too, such as spending big amounts of money with telemarketers or buying products that aren’t needed.
Trouble with Complex Tasks: Having trouble with tasks that require abstract thinking like balancing a check book or playing a favourite game can be difficult for the Alzheimer’s sufferer.
Mood Swings, and Personality Changes: Mood changes for no apparent reason can be another symptom. The sufferer could be happy and cheerful one minute, and then suddenly become extremely angry over something that is quite trivial, or that they have imagined. They can become clingy with a family member, or suspicious of the neighbours.
Loss of Initiative: We can all get tired of housework or our business activities sometimes. But someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can become quite passive, watching television for hours, not wanting to do their normal activities, or spending more time sleeping.
Many more people are worried that they may have Alzheimer’s disease than actually get the disease. However, if you are suffering from these symptoms, see a specialist.