Contributed by Christine Binney
Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease. 5.3 million Americans currently suffer from the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Although it is such a prevalent disease, most people living with Alzheimer’s are not aware of their diagnosis. Only 45 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease or their caregivers report ever being told of their diagnosis by a healthcare provider. That is why it is so important to understand the symptoms of Alzheimer’s so that you can seek out the best care for your loved one and the proper support for yourself as a caregiver.
One of the most well-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. This can include forgetting recently learned information, forgetting important names, dates or events, and repeatedly asking the same questions. Of course, we all experience moments of temporary forgetfulness when we misplace our keys or can’t remember a colleague’s name. However, the memory loss that comes along with Alzheimer’s disease is severe enough to affect daily life.
Confusion dealing with everyday tasks
Another symptom of Alzheimer’s occurs when people find it difficult or confusing to manage everyday tasks that they used to handle with ease. For example, they might experience confusion when balancing a checkbook, keeping track of bills and medications, using their favorite electronic devices, or navigating directions to a well-known destination. It is normal to have a bad day on occasion, but people who begin to continually find themselves making mistakes when dealing with simple tasks may be suffering one of the most commonly known symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Lapses in judgement
Displaying unusual lapses in judgement can be another symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Be on the lookout for someone who begins neglecting their personal hygiene, choosing clothing that is inappropriate for the weather, or making poor decisions that they typically wouldn’t make – like investing money in a scam.
Everyone has experienced the moment where you know what you want to say but can’t find the right words, even when they are on the tip of your tongue. However, for sufferers of Alzheimer’s, this can become a frequent occurrence. Alzheimer’s makes it difficult to find the right words, which can make conversations very frustrating. People may call an item by the wrong name, repeat themselves, or stop mid-conversation because they are unsure how to finish.
Withdrawal from social activities
Due to the memory loss, confusion, and difficulties communicating, people with Alzheimer’s tend to withdrawal from work and social activities that they once enjoyed. For many people, their newly altered mental state makes social interaction such a struggle that it is no longer considered worthwhile to continue activities and hobbies that they engaged in before.
Sufferers from Alzheimer’s disease often feel a sense of disorientation, not understanding where they are in time or space. Their internal clock may be disrupted, making it hard to decipher spans of time as well as the appropriate times to do things like eat or sleep. They may also become confused about where they are, even if it’s a location or neighborhood that they are intimately familiar with.
In severe cases, this sense of disorientation can lead Alzheimer’s sufferers to wander away from their homes. They may be in search of food, water, or a bathroom, but they may forget where to go to find it. They may be looking to remove themselves from a stress-filled situation or an environment with too much stimulation. Or they may be reliving their memories and carrying out an everyday routine from their past, like going to work every morning.
By understanding the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, you will be better equipped to identify it. Identifying and understanding the disease is the best way to proactively seek help from professionals, friends and family. If a loved one does receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you can be knowledgeable about the stages of Alzheimer’s disease so that you can provide the best care possible.