Alzheimer’s disease is a complex illness that is difficult to detect during its early stages. Many people realize that it is affecting a family member when their loved one is at an advanced stage of it. Coping with it at this point is difficult for both the person who is suffering from it and the individuals taking care of him or her. In contrast, detecting it early helps you plan before the disease reaches an extreme phase. Planning can save you heartache. Moreover, it can make the moments you share with your loved ones worthwhile even if they are ill.
Memory loss occurs when you experience difficulties remembering events. In most cases, it lasts for a short time. However, a heightened level of forgetfulness can persist over a long period. Assuming that this persistence in memory loss is the result of Alzheimer’s would be wrong. Many causes of this condition exist including brain injuries, stress, lack of adequate sleep, and ageing. It could be Alzheimer’s disease if you eliminate these causes as the reason behind the memory loss. Another clue would be the loss of other cognitive skills. For example, your loved ones would struggle with processing information that might seem simple to you or others. This loss of cognitive skills occurs because the disease affects the brain, destroying brain tissue over time.
People with Alzheimer’s disease experience a slow decline in their ability to read. Individuals who could read a paragraph fluently would take time to read the same text. You can even find them staring at the same page for a long period. You can also observe a developing habit of turning pages without reading them. In extreme cases, they might hold the book or magazine upside down. Taking certain steps as soon as you notice these behaviors is critical. For instance, stock their shelves with books that they love and get them reading materials with large fonts. Reading to them is also an excellent idea, as it soothes them while creating a bonding experience.
As Alzheimer’s disease sets in, people feel inclined to withdraw from everyday activities. Things that they might have loved doing in the past would seem bothersome to them today especially. Even games like chess would seem difficult because of the mental application that is necessary for such activities. Consequently, you would see your loved ones withdrawing slowly from society. At first, you would think that something is bothering them, perhaps depression. However, unlike most withdrawals, this one would be constant and no effort you can make to reverse it would yield fruit. Therefore, a new routine that would require a minimal amount of physical and emotional effort would be necessary. Help your loved ones to transition into that schedule. Start financial preparations immediately in case they earned income from their previous activities.
Confusion over time and place worsens as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Noticing it early helps you put measures in place to ensure the safety and security of your loved ones. For example, you can make sure that you know where they are as soon as they leave the house. Start tracking them the first time they call you trying to remember where they are or what they were to do there. Do not take these events lightly. They are not one-time occurrences. Under their daily movements and the routes that they use to move around the neighborhood. Establish contacts with the businesses and friends that they visit regularly. In summary, make sure that you have a full-proof way of reaching them if they experience another bout of confusion.
People suffering from Alzheimer’s will let go of themselves. For example, their level of grooming will reduce significantly and constantly. You might confuse what they are going through with depression. However, that might not be the case. In truth, being suave requires a lot of effort. You need a sharp mind to choose the best outfit. A lot of physical effort is also necessary to help you keep the house as tidy as it was. Sadly, people with Alzheimer’s lose this sharpness and physical energy progressively and as such, they let go of themselves and their homes. Taking note of this sign early is important because it helps you know when to start preparations for hiring a caretaker to take care of your loved one.
Perhaps your loved one used to be a lively person, but progressively, his mood changed. He may seem anxious and depressed most of the time even though you cannot associate these changes to a significant event in his life. For example, the loss of a job or a loved one. Moreover, a personality change can also accompany these changes in his mood. For example, perhaps he was an expressive person when happy or sad. However, this time, he finds difficulty in expressing himself. That could be a sign that his mood disorder is the result of an underlying change in his mental abilities. It could be that the damage to his brain is only starting hence the changes in both his mood and personality.
Most people improve on planning as they become older because they understand the importance of it as they grow. They even help their children and grandchildren with it. However, the onset of Alzheimer’s would change that. A person who would be good at planning their income, work and chores among other things would lose that ability. It would not happen overnight, but it would be noticeable. In some cases, even planning a meal and following the recipe becomes difficult. Recognize this sign early so that you can step in and plan for your loved one. Make sure that their activities continue unimpeded, and their plans reach fruition. For example, remind them about monthly payments to utility companies or do it for them.
Spatial relationships refer to the location of a specific object in a given space and in relation to another one. Developing a functional level of spatial awareness occurs naturally. As children grow, this awareness helps them locate objects and then navigate their environments. It persists into adulthood. However, people with illnesses affecting the brain may lose awareness of this relationship progressively. That is especially true when it comes to individuals who develop Alzheimer’s disease. They would have problems judging distances between objects. Finding their bearing when slightly destabilized may prove to be a challenge. You will have to hold their hand more closely than you did as you walked with them. You might also have to design the house to make it as simple as possible so that your loved one can move in it without much difficulty.
Constructing a visual image in your mind seems like an easy task. However, it takes a bit of work in your brain to construct that image for you. Sadly, Alzheimer’s robs people of their brain power. Consequently, they lose their ability to visualize what you are trying to tell them. At first, it would seem that they do not get it so you would insist. Eventually, after time, you might realize that the problem is deeper than you thought. Difficulties in recognizing and interpreting images may also arise in time. This sign is disheartening for most families especially when their loved ones cannot recognize old family photos. Help your loved ones by ensuring that they have constant access to sentimental images that they can recognize and interpret easily.
Writing requires the coordinated use of your brain and hands. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s affects this coordinated effort because it destroys brain cells. Consequently, one of the first causes of this disease in a loved one is a change in their handwriting. It becomes shaky because they lose control over their muscle functions. Moreover, the tendency to forget increases as does their level of confusion. Therefore, their ability to construct and write sentences over a long period deteriorates. They will write fewer and fewer words. The coherence of their sentences will reduce. Eventually, writing will become too difficult for them. Establish an effective communication method before that happens. Understand their normal routine so that you can still help them do it even if they cannot communicate to you at that time.
Alzheimer’s is a highly complex disease that often creeps in without anyone noticing. Most people misinterpret it with other conditions such as depression and anxiety. Failure to recognize it early leads to a lot of heartache for the people suffering from it and their family members. They do not understand what is happening and consequently, they try to solve it in ways that exacerbate the problem. Avoid this kind of scenario by taking note of the symptoms as the disease starts and progresses. Taking note of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s listed above would help you do that.