June is Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month and, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, worldwide, 50-million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. No one should face this alone and to help raise awareness, we explore what Alzheimer’s is and the signs of dementia that you can look out for in yourself or your loved ones.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities that are serious enough to interfere with one’s daily life. This brain disease causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or a way to slow its progression, there are treatments that may help to alleviate symptoms. However, studies and experts recommend living a healthy lifestyle to help reduce your risk.
Alzheimer’s has been linked to cardiovascular disease, while other studies show links to depression and living a sedentary lifestyle. There is evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active throughout their lives. However, it is important to note that the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs and symptoms to look out for that may suggest a need for medical attention. If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. Speak to your family or support system and schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life: One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same questions repeatedly and needing to rely more and more on memory aids.
- Planning and problem-solving challenges: Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
- Familiar tasks become difficult: People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete tasks they do regularly. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favourite game.
- Confusion about time or places: This includes losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. People may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately, and may forget where they are or how they got there.
- Issues with spatial relationships or visuals: Having vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. This could include problems with judging distance and determining colour or contrast, causing issues with driving.
- Word worries: This can include issues relating to conversations i.e. having no idea how to continue or repeating yourself. It may also include a struggle with vocabulary, trouble naming a familiar object or using the wrong name for an everyday object.
- Withdrawal from social activities: Including work, this withdrawal may be the result of changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation and thus avoidance of social situations.
- Misplacing items: An inability to retrace footsteps and placing items in strange places is a common sign of Alzheimer’s. This can manifest in accusations of others for stealing one’s belongings as you are unable to find them.
- A change in judgement: Individuals may experience changes in judgement or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
- Moodiness: Because of all the potential aforementioned symptoms, people may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily sparked at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.
Should you be experiencing any of the symptoms listed, it is always advisable to have a professional provide an accurate diagnosis. Visit our Medshield Network to locate a doctor or expert in your area today.