26 Nov Do you Recognize the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
One in three seniors in America dies with Alzheimer’s, or some other form of dementia. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. In fact, it kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that an estimated 5.5 million Americans (or 1 in every 10) over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Almost 66% of those with the disease are female, and experts estimate that by 2050, the number of people suffering with this disease will almost triple.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive mental deterioration disease that attacks the memory and other crucial mental functions. Basically, the brain cells degenerate and die. At first, someone with Alzheimer’s may experience some mild symptoms like confusion or easily forgetting something. But as the disease progresses, it can dramatically change someone causing them to forget loved ones and even experience mood/ behavior changes. The rate at which symptoms worsen varies from person to person.
Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease. Nothing can prevent it. Nothing can cure it. However, there are medications that can treat the symptoms of the disease. It is best to look for the proper signs and symptoms early on as timely and accurate diagnoses can help, and even save you (and your loved one), a lot of time, headache, and money down the road.
It’s important to remember that every person is different, and there are different stages of Alzheimer’s: preclinical, mild (early-stage), moderate, and severe (late-stage).
Look for the following signs and symptoms to help you know if your loved one might have Alzheimer’s, then consult with your doctor about how to proceed.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, someone may appear healthy, but begins to struggle making sense of their surroundings. People close to the senior may begin to realize that something is wrong.
Memory issues are generally one of the first signs of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s. It’s completely normal to occasionally forget where you placed your phone, or the name of an acquaintance. However, memory loss in Alzheimer’s progresses and worsens prohibiting someone from doing their normal day-to-day functions.
Other typical mild signs may also include:
- Memory loss
- Wandering and getting lost
- Loss of spontaneity
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Trouble handling money and paying bills
- Repeating questions
- Losing things or misplacing them in odd places
- Mood and personality changes
- Increased anxiety and/or aggression
As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one may need more supervision and care. Because of the way the disease affects the brain, it affects the way someone acts and feels. In this stage, moderate signs and symptoms may include:
- Increased memory loss and confusion
- Short attention span
- Repetitive statements or movement, occasional muscle twitches
- Struggle to compose thoughts and thinking logically
- Failure to learn new things
- Difficulty with language and problems with reading, writing, and working with numbers
- Problems coping with new situations
- Struggling to remember family and friends
- Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
- Impulsive behavior (such as undressing at inappropriate time/places, or cursing
- Aggressiveness, or shows Inappropriate outbursts of anger
- Restlessness, irritable, anxious, emotional
In the late stages, those with Alzheimer’s cannot communicate and function well. In fact, they are completely dependent on others to care for them. As the body begins to shut down, he or she will probably also be bed ridden. Symptoms at this stage include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Trouble swallowing
- Lack of ability to communicate
- Skin infections
The Mayo Clinic adds:
Many important skills are not lost until very late in the disease. These include the ability to read, dance and sing, enjoy old music, engage in crafts and hobbies, tell stories, and reminisce. This is because information, skills and habits learned early in life are among the last abilities to be lost as the disease progresses; the part of the brain that stores this information tends to be affected later in the course of the disease. Capitalizing on these abilities can foster successes and maintain quality of life even into the moderate phase of the disease.
If you suspect that you, or your loved one, may have Alzheimer’s, consult with a doctor. Recognizing the symptoms early on can help with an accurate diagnosis, and help your loved one get the best care he needs. In addition, our nursing staff and trained caregivers offer a high level of service from managing medication, assisting with daily activities, and customizing senior care plans in cooperation with your doctors. Contact us today by clicking here to see how we can assist you.