Presented by BetterHelp.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects millions of people every year. It takes over the entire brain, reducing memory and cognitive functioning. Over time, affected individuals will struggle with common tasks, recalling important information, and may experience significant personality changes. Later stages of this disease completely change the person and rob them of their autonomy.
Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, an early diagnosis can allow more options for managing the symptoms and slowing the spread of the disease. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s so that you can help your loved one right away. Here are ten early signs of Alzheimer, including some contrasts to show you what normal signs of aging look like.
Table of Contents
1. Significant Memory Loss
One of the classic symptoms of Alzheimer’s is significant issues with memory. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person will forget information that they have known for decades and struggle to recall new information. This can include the name of people they see every day as well as important appointments and dates.
In contrast, older individuals without Alzheimer may forget names and important dates but tend to remember them later. A small amount of forgetfulness and memory issues are normal, but consistent problems with memory are not.
2. Challenges With Problem Solving
Tasks that require problem-solving or multiple steps become extremely difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s. For example, following a recipe or keeping a budget may become overwhelming. Likewise, a house repair that requires some thought, problem-solving, or planning may be impossible to work on.
Older individuals without Alzheimer may make more mistakes when working on these tasks but can still manage them for the most part. They may require some assistance but aren’t completely dependent on others. Those with Alzheimer’s will increasingly become dependent on their loved ones to accomplish both simple and complex tasks.
3. Difficulty Completing Normal Daily Tasks
A person with Alzheimer’s may start struggling with normal tasks that they normally accomplish without a problem. They may forget how to do the task altogether or become overwhelmed if it requires many steps. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s may struggle to cook meals or balance their checkbook.
Older individuals may struggle with some tasks in their old age, but it rarely becomes a concern that it affects their lives. Individuals with Alzheimer forget essential tasks, so their lives are greatly impacted.
All the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can create increased confusion in affected individuals. They may become confused if they don’t remember their loved ones or how they got to a particular store. They may also struggle to understand what is happening around them.
Healthy older adults may become confused from time to time but generally figure things out later on.
5. Trouble With Spatial Awareness And Visual Images
Individuals with Alzheimer’ will struggle with spatial awareness, meaning they will have problems judging distances or figuring out where they are. This is why so many people with Alzheimer’s get lost when walking common routes or driving around the town they have lived in their entire lives.
Furthermore, they may struggle with reading, judging colors or contrast, and have some other general vision problems. Older individuals without Alzheimer’s may develop cataracts or live with poor eyesight but not experience the extent of the issues listed here.
6. Problems With Communication
Communication problems are also common issues for people with Alzheimer’s. They may struggle to follow along in a conversation or may stop mid-sentence. They are also prone to repeating information or questions. Furthermore, individuals with Alzheimer’s tend to forget the names of common everyday objects or may use the wrong words to describe them.
Older individuals without Alzheimer’s may occasionally repeat questions or forget their vocabulary, but not often enough for it to become a pattern or concern.
7. Misplacing Items
An individual with Alzheimer’s may frequently misplace their items or place them in unusual locations. When trying to find the item, they will struggle to retrace their steps in order to to find it. In later stages of Alzheimer’s, when the person is experiencing mood and personality changes, they may accuse their loved ones of stealing.
Older individuals without Alzheimer’s also occasionally misplace things but can still retrace their steps to find the items again.
8. Poor Judgment
Individuals with Alzheimer’s will struggle with poor judgment and not make the wise decisions they normally make. For example, they may not keep up their hygiene very well or spend their money on frivolous items rather than paying their bills. Though people of all ages make bad decisions from time to time, those with Alzheimer’s will develop a consistent pattern of poor judgment that affects the quality of their life.
9. Social Withdrawal
Since individuals with Alzheimer’s struggle to remember people or hold a conversation, they may become depressed and withdrawn, isolating themselves from their friends and family. They may no longer come to outings or participate in their hobbies.
A person without Alzheimer’s may occasionally skip out on social obligations but will generally not completely withdraw from their friends and family.
10. Mood, Behavior, And Personality Changes
Though all the symptoms on this list are difficult to experience, the most heartbreaking sign of Alzheimer’s is the personality and mood changes that occur. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s (especially later stages) can completely alter the personality of an affected individual, changing them from the person their families and friends love.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s may become suspicious and fearful and live with depression and anxiety. The changes they are experiencing may be overwhelming, scary, or confusing, and they may take their emotions out on their family.
Individuals without Alzheimer’s may become irritable or anxious from time to time, but not enough where it affects their normal mood, behavior, or personality.
Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease that completely changes your loved one. However, vigilance and early management strategies may slow the spread of the disease. If you witness your loved one showing any of the signs, take them to a doctor for a formal assessment and to discuss management strategies. For more general information about Alzheimer’s, you can head to the link below: