Alzheimer’s disease tends to develop slowly over time, but if you notice your loved one repeatedly asking the same questions or getting lost while out running simple errands, it may be time for an expert consultation.
Dementia is a lasting impairment of all mental functions, which can include learning, memory, orientation and problem solving, while Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It’s marked by a progressive degeneration of brain tissue, and primarily affects people over the age of 65.
Early-stage symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease aren’t always easily identifiable and can be confused with other common age-related changes.
Here’s what to look out for:
• Odd behaviour
Although all of us misplace things from time to time, people with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to put objects in odd places. For instance, someone with Alzheimer’s might repeatedly put their set of keys in the fridge.
It’s common for people affected by Alzheimer’s disease to repeat stories – sometimes word for word. And, no matter how many times they get an answer, they may keep asking the same questions.
• Language problems
Struggling to remember a word occasionally is something we all experience, but someone affected by Alzheimer’s disease might really struggle to remember even basic words.
• Poor hygiene
This is often the most obvious sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Someone who has always paid attention to their appearance and hygiene might suddenly start wearing dirty clothing, and forget to comb their hair, brush their teeth or take a bath.
• Personality changes
Sudden mood swings are quite common among people with Alzheimer’s disease, who might become angry, emotional or upset for no apparent reason. Withdrawal and despondency are also indicators of Alzheimer’s, as is suspicion.
• Confusion and disorientation
Alzheimer’s disease often makes people feel lost in places with which they are familiar. Disorientation in terms of basic and familiar tasks, such as brushing teeth or taking the garbage out, is also common.
• Loss of memory
People with dementia might forget recent experiences or important dates or events that interfere with daily life. And while anyone can forget small details from a recent event or conversation, people affected by Alzheimer’s disease might forget that it ever occurred.
REMEMBER: These symptoms don’t necessarily mean your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, but you would do well to schedule an appointment with your doctor or a specialist.