Early detection of Alzheimer’s gives you more time to plan for the future. You can research and make decisions about your care and living options, explore treatment plans such as participation in clinical drug trials, and build a trusted network of social supporters and care providers. The chance to take these extra preparatory measures can be invaluable in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, helping to slow the progression of symptoms and prolong independence. In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we encourage you to take the time to learn these 10 warning signs so that you or a loved one can spot Alzheimer’s early.
- Disruptive memory loss. Do you find yourself asking for the same information over and over? Becoming reliant on memory aids to remember important dates or events? It’s normal to experience some memory loss as you age, but if memory loss starts interrupting your daily life, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
- Trouble planning and problem solving. Some people will experience changes in their ability to follow directions, create a plan, or work with numbers. Tasks such as following recipes or keeping a budget may become more difficult.
- Daily tasks become a challenge. Even the most familiar of tasks can become challenging to complete, such as driving your usual route to work or remembering the rules to your favorite game.
- Confusion of time or place. It’s common for those with Alzheimer’s to begin losing track of important dates and the passage of time more easily. They may even be unable to remember where they are or how they got there.
- Vision problems. Judging spatial relationships, reading, or determining colors may become more difficult. This symptom is especially important to identify early on, as it can impair your ability to drive safely.
- Difficulty communicating. People with Alzheimer’s may begin to struggle with vocabulary, having trouble coming up with the right word or maintaining a conversation. This frustration can make people want to avoid joining conversations if they feel they can’t communicate effectively.
- Misplacing things. Do you find yourself putting things in unusual places, and then unable to retrace your steps to locate them again? These incidences may increase in frequency as the disease develops.
- Impaired judgment. Lapses in judgment can manifest as poor decision-making, negligence of hygiene, and ill-considered financial decisions, such as falling prey to telemarketers.
- Social withdrawal. As a person experiences the changes associated with Alzheimer’s, they may begin to withdraw from hobbies, group commitments, or social gatherings.
- Mood and personality changes. The onset of Alzheimer’s can cause changes in temperament and personality, such as suspicion, depression, anxiety, and confusion. They will often become more easily upset with friends or family.
If you begin to notice these symptoms in you or a loved one, schedule a doctor’s visit. They will be able to evaluate your case and refer you to a specialist, if necessary.