Alzheimer’s, a brain disease, is the most common form of dementia. It gradually affects the ability to remember things, think, and reason. This neurodegenerative disease is due to a progressive death of brain cells.
While Alzheimer’s causes dementia, they are two distinct medical conditions. Other dementia causes include traumatic brain injuries and vascular disorder. Further, dementia causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s.
Considering that Alzheimer’s is responsible for the death of 1 in 3 seniors and is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, it important to know the early signs of it and seek treatment before it affects you or your loved one’s quality of life.
Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
Signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s are noticeable when a person is between 30s and mid-60s. 10 early signs are as follows. They may vary from patient to patient, but you may experience one or more of them:
Mild forgetfulness due to age is normal. But memory loss where you cannot remember names of close family members, recently learned information, or repeatedly asking for the same information are early signs of the disease.
Difficulty with planning or solving problems
People with the disease have challenges making and following a plan. Working with numbers may become difficult or they have trouble maintaining a checkbook. It is common to take longer to do things due to problems concentrating.
Confusion with time or place
If you have Alzheimer’s, it is common to get lost, forget where you are or how you got there, misunderstand the passage of time, or lose track of dates or seasons.
Challenges with visual images and spatial relationships
Alzheimer’s causes some people to develop vision problems. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance or differentiating colors.
Having a hard time completing tasks (at home, work, leisure)
Completing routine tasks may become difficult. For example, driving to a familiar location. You may have to think long and hard before remembering how to get daily tasks done.
If you misplace things because you put or hide them in unusual places, e.g., the refrigerator, you might be experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s cause poor judgment such as with financial decisions. Examples are, giving away a large sum of money to a stranger or wearing summer clothes in the winter.
New issues with words (speaking and writing)
Calling things by the wrong name or the inability to find the right words while speaking or writing are marked signs of this brain disease. You may also have trouble joining or following a conversation.
Mood and personality changes
Alzheimer’s causes people to become confused, anxious, suspicious, fearful or depressed. They also get easily upset or irritated over simple things others wouldn’t normally fuss about.
Avoidance or withdrawal from work or social activities
Social withdrawal, e.g., becoming less interested or involved in hobbies or other social activities is another early sign of this type of dementia.
Remember dementia causes similar signs to Alzheimer’s. Getting tested early can provide an accurate diagnosis and allow you to seek treatment right away. Early treatment prevents the disease from progressing and causing death.