Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, which mainly affects people above the age of 60. It begins with mild memory loss, which then develops progressively toward an advanced state of dementia, leaving patients unable to communicate properly with those around them and to connect with the surrounding environment.
It is a silent killer because early symptoms can be easily overlooked, leaving the patient vulnerable to the raging onset of a merciless disease. This is precisely why raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease is crucial to helping people notice that they might be in need of medical assistance.
There are a few telltale signs which indicate that a person might be suffering from the disease. It is extremely important that people analyze themselves objectively and take action if they find that most of the following situations are all too familiar to them. If you find that more than four of these signs apply to you, consider seeing a specialist to find out whether you might be suffering from an early stage of the disease.
- Common memory loss that disrupts daily life.
This is one of the most important early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but unfortunately, it is one of the most overlooked ones as well. It is all too easy to blame habitual memory loss on stress and exhaustion, and patients usually wait too long before seeking medical assistance.
Key signs include forgetting dates and events, asking for the same information several times or overusing memory aids, such as reminder apps, Post-its, and calendar notes. It is perfectly normal to forget things from time to time, but a healthy person is eventually able to remember them, whereas an Alzheimer’s patient cannot do so anymore.
- Misplacing things and difficulty in retracing steps.
This is one of the most revealing early-onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Patients find themselves unable to retrace their steps and they are unable to remember these at a later time. Experiencing difficulty in retracing steps may be caused by stress, but healthy people are able to remember this information at a later time, while dementia patients are not.
- Difficulty in solving problems.
Over the years, people develop the ability to apply problem-solving patterns to various situations. Alzheimer’s patients lose this ability and find themselves struggling with common issues that they have come across many times in the past.
- Difficulty with pronouncing or spelling known words.
It is perfectly normal to forget a word from time to time and then obsess over remembering it for a while until it comes back to you. The important fact is that when it does come back, you are immediately able to connect it with various situations. When this happens to Alzheimer’s patients, they cannot remember these words and often experience difficulty in acknowledging their meaning.
- Difficulty following conversations.
It is normal to lose focus on a conversation and then not be able to retrace how the discussion got to the current point, but people with Alzheimer’s experience difficulty in following conversations even when these are their main focus.
- Common confusion about place.
Alzheimer’s patients tend to get lost easily. They may find themselves unable to remember where they are or how they got there. This is a very important symptom and it is essential that it is not overlooked. If this happens, a full medical workup is recommended.
- Common confusion about time.
Forgetting about an appointment from time to time is normal, but when it becomes excessively difficult to remember schedules without using a calendar or a reminder, it may not just be stress and exhaustion anymore.
- Difficulty carrying out common tasks.
People with Alzheimer’s are sometimes unable to carry out common tasks that they have carried out countless times before. While it is normal not to remember how to perform a task done a long time before, it is clearly a problem to forget how to use the coffee maker or write a message on your phone.
- Mood swings.
People with Alzheimer’s tend to display depressive behavior. They become excessively suspicious of the people around them and they are noticeably anxious. As a consequence, they often tend to become secluded and to exclude themselves from social situations.
- Poor judgement.
Everybody makes a poor decision once in a while, but when people begin making mistakes that are not in line with their personality and their normal reactions to common situations, it may be time to ask questions. Alzheimer’s patients often become the victims of online scams, which they normally would be able to detect as being suspicious.
The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are subtle. This is the main reason why it is commonly diagnosed when the condition has already advanced considerably. Schedule a checkup with your doctor if you, a close friend, or a relative have been experiencing the aforementioned situations.
Confused man photo available from Shutterstock