Alzheimer’s causes a gradual decline in memory and thinking ability. The signs of Alzheimer’s may often be neglected, thinking it is a normal part of ageing. But Alzheimer’s disease is much more serious than normal ageing and should not be ignored.
- Forgetting your own name
- Disorientation about season or time
- Getting lost and unable to remember where you are
- Losing the ability to dress yourself or eat a meal
- Losing the ability to make a conversation
- Unable to retrace steps to find lost things
- Unable to recall someone’s name
- Forgetting a date but remembering it later
- Forgetting a particular address
- Forgetting your pills or your meals once in a while
- Fumbling for a particular word in a sentence
- Losing things like keys or purse, but able to recall later
If you notice any one or more of the following warning signs in a loved elder, be sure to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and proper treatment can give them the best chance at managing symptoms and help them stay independent for longer.
Losing things frequently
Most of us have had the experience of forgetting where we have kept things like keys or wallets or cellphones at times and then finding them after a desperate search; this happens more often as we age.
But Alzheimer’s is much more serious than this; here, the sufferer may keep his belongings in strange unrelated places and then be unable to retrace the steps to find them.
Disorientation about time and place
Getting confused about time and forgetting an address can sometimes occur as an effect of ageing.
But in Alzheimer’s, the sufferers may be totally out of tune with the time, month, or season and, at times, be unaware of where they are or how they reached there. They may forget to attend an event or keep a doctor’s appointment.
Trouble with having a conversation
It is normal sometimes to forget a word or two as we age.
But Alzheimer’s is much more serious than this. In Alzheimer’s, the sufferers may struggle to express themselves. They may be unable to start or participate in a normal conversation. They may have trouble finding the right word or may use the wrong words for common things. They may freeze or stop a sentence midway through. They may repeat the same thing again and again.
Memory decline that hinders normal life
Ageing is normally associated with weakening ability, e.g., you may fumble at doing complicated calculations like before.
But in Alzheimer’s, loss of ability is much more serious. They may have difficulty doing everyday things like switching on the television, closing a tap, etc. They may be unable to do personal things like dressing themselves or grooming appropriately.
Everyone sometimes wishes for a break from family and social responsibilities. With ageing, it is normal for elders to sometimes wish for peace and quiet and shut out from social interaction.
But in Alzheimer’s, this becomes much more serious. The sufferers start to withdraw from friends and family completely. They refuse to participate in interaction and social activities. They may no longer be interested in a hobby they used to enjoy or see a television show they regularly follow. Soon, you may not be able to reach them; they may appear shut in their worlds.
Elders may sometimes not be receptive to changes and get irritable and frustrated if things are not done in their way.
However, in Alzheimer’s, mood swings become very common. The sufferers may experience negative emotions like anxiety, depression, fear, etc., for no apparent reason. They may feel suspicious of people and get angry and aggressive with little or no provocation.
Weakening power of judgment
Elders may sometimes be unable to weigh the pros and cons of a situation and make the right decision.
But in Alzheimer’s, the sufferers may be unable to recollect the information required to make a particular decision; this can make them fall prey to tricksters who can con them out of their money or property. They may also struggle with routine things like paying monthly bills or deciding on a budget.
Having trouble with eyesight is normal with ageing due to the development of cataracts or other age-related changes.
But in Alzheimer’s, the sufferers may be unable to judge distances, recognize colours, or understand contrasts. They may misjudge spatial relationships. All this can make driving problematic for them.
What to do when you notice these changes in a loved one
Do not ignore these signs or symptoms. If you notice them in a loved elder, be sure to consult a neurologist as soon as possible. Early detection is essential as it can help manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and retain their independence for longer.