You might think the signs of Alzheimer’s disease are obvious, but that’s not always the case. Some signs and symptoms are subtle. It can be a tricky disease to diagnose, especially if you’re under the age of 65. So how do you know what’s normal and what you should keep an eye on? We’ll tell you how to know the difference. Here are some early warning signs of Alzheimer’s you should watch out for.
Mood or personality changes
If you’ve been moody lately, don’t brush it off. Sudden changes in mood or personality could also indicate that something isn’t right. During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you might display anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Alzheimer’s Association contributor Sonya Laputz said personality can fluctuate frequently.
Alzheimer’s patients can experience fluctuating personality changes, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member. We all become sad or moody from time to time. The difference with Alzheimer’s is that your loved one can show rapid mood swings from calm to tears to anger, for no apparent reason.
Challenges with planning or problem solving
You might find that you’re having trouble making decisions or solving problems. Although you might be familiar with memory loss as a major sign of Alzheimer’s, poor problem solving often happens before the onset of memory loss. For example, it may be harder for you to develop and follow a plan. You might also have trouble working with numbers, keeping up with bills, or balancing a checkbook.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
For some people with Alzheimer’s it becomes difficult to do things that once required little effort. If familiar tasks are now very difficult to complete, you’ll want to see your physician for further evaluation. For example, you should be concerned if you’re noticing that you often get lost on your way to a location that was once familiar to you or you often forget the rules of a game that you play all the time.
Do you know what you want to say but have trouble communicating? If you’re having sudden problems with words, this is also something you should pay attention to. When signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s first appear, they sometimes come in the form of difficulty communicating verbally, in writing, or both. The Alzheimer’s Association said some problems you may encounter are difficulty finding the right words, using familiar words repeatedly, and trouble organizing words logically.
Decreased or poor judgment
Judgment can become significantly affected during the early stages of Alzheimer’s. You might find that you’re making decisions that don’t quite make sense to others or that could be harmful to yourself or others. It becomes difficult to consider various factors that should be analyzed when making a decision.
In her column for VeryWell, social worker Esther Heerema said those with Alzheimer’s might also have difficulty gauging the consequences of a behavior.
Looking ahead to the possible outcome of a behavior or choice may also be a challenge, as is considering abstract ideas vs. concrete ideas. Poor judgment in Alzheimer’s is not just one questionable decision, but rather a pattern of clearly inappropriate decisions or actions.
Do you often find missing items in unusual places? If you frequently misplace things, it could be more than just not paying attention or being unusually forgetful. This is an overlooked red flag that you might have Alzheimer’s. If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s who often misplaces things, Care.com contributor Brenda Avadian recommends checking cupboards and cabinets daily for missing items. She also suggests regularly looking in the back of his or her closet.
There are many online and digital tools that can help you get through this tough time. Here are some resources for the journey.
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
- Early Detection Checklist
- National Institute on Aging Resources for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
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