Recognizing The 10 Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Most of us have heard of Alzheimers before. Yet myths surrounding this disease still abound. Do you think you would be able to detect the signs of Alzheimers in yourself or a loved one?
While there is currently no treatment, early detection allows those affected to get the care, support and medications they need to better manage the disease early detection also gives them more time to make the various legal, financial and medical decisions that are required.
Since family members are usually the first ones to notice changes in a loved ones behaviour, it is important for all of us to be informed about Alzheimers disease.
Difficulty Finding The Right Words
Another early symptom of dementia is difficulty with communicating thoughts. A person with dementia may have a hard time explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. They may also stop in the middle of a sentence and not know how to continue.
Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be challenging, and it may take longer than usual for them to express their thoughts or feelings.
Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia
A person in the sixth stage of Alzheimer’s disease has noticeable difficulty with memory and thinking. General characteristics of stage 6 include:3
- Occasional inability to remember the names of a spouse, partner, or caregiver
- Difficulty or inability to recall recent life experiences or events
- Difficulty counting down from 10.
- Needing assistance for basic daily activities, such as bathing, using the bathroom, or getting dressed
- Disrupted sleep/wake cycles, insomnia, or other sleep problems
In addition, the sixth stage is marked by changes in personality and behavioral symptoms, such as:3
- Delusional behaviors, such as the belief that spouses or caregivers are imposters, or talking to imagined people or their image in the mirror
- Obsessive symptoms, such as compulsively cleaning the same area
- Feelings of anxiety, agitation, increased irritability, or violence
- Cognitive abulia, or a loss of desire or ability to carry out an action due to the inability to focus on a thought
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Who Gets Early Onset Ad
Although AD isnt an expected part of advancing age, youre at increased risk as you get older. More than 32 percent of people over age 85 have AD.
You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.
A showed that African Americans, Native Americans, and Native Alaskans are at higher risk for developing early onset AD compared to white people.
Prevalence of early onset AD
Early onset AD affects approximately
The exact cause of early onset AD hasnt been fully determined. Many researchers believe that this disease develops as the result of multiple factors rather than one specific cause.
Researchers have discovered rare genes that may directly cause or contribute to AD. These deterministic genes are:
- amyloid precursor protein on chromosome 21
- presenilin-1 on chromosome 14
- presenilin-2 on chromosome 1
These genes may be carried from one generation to the next within a family. Carrying these genes can result in adults younger than age 65 developing symptoms much earlier than expected.
Mutations in these genes account for only 5 to 10 percent of all Alzheimers cases but a majority of early onset AD cases.
Apolipoprotein E is another gene associated with AD. Its more commonly a factor in people who develop AD after age 65.
Lifestyle changes that help reduce risk include:
- regular physical activity
What Are 10 Early Signs Of Dementia
Dementia affects people differently. Likewise, the beginning symptoms of dementia may vary from person to person. But there are common early warning signs to watch for. Looking for patterns of these behaviors may help you identify signs your parent may have dementia.
Your loved one should see a doctor if you notice any of the following 10 signs of dementia, according to the CDC. The doctor may run tests to determine what is causing your family members symptoms.
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Dementia & Alzheimer’s Infographic
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Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Confusion with time or place
- Changes in mood and personality
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
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What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of conditions that involve changes to memory, thinking, and judgment that ultimately interfere with a person’s ability to function. About 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. today.
Most cases are diagnosed in people older than 65, and Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Although Alzheimer’s currently has no cure, a drug called aducanumab may slow cognitive decline.
When To See A Gp
If you’re worried about your memory or think you may have dementia, it’s a good idea to see a GP.
If you’re worried about someone else’s memory problems, encourage them to make an appointment and perhaps suggest that you go along with them.
Memory problems are not just caused by dementia they can also be caused by depression, stress, medicines or other health problems.
A GP can carry out some simple checks to try to find out what the cause may be, and they can refer you to a specialist for more tests if necessary.
Read more about diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 05 July 2021 Next review due: 05 July 2024
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Things You Need To Know
Alzheimers disease was first discovered by Dr Alois Alzheimer in 1906 after noting severe brain damage in the brain of a woman who died from severe mental illness. Previously undiagnosed, all the trademark signs of Alzheimers disease were visible. These include Amyloid Plaques, which are abnormal clumps in the brain matter, and Neurofibrillary Tangles, which are tangled fibers within the brain.
A short answer to the question what Alzheimers would be, irreversible dementia. Dementia is when your cognitive or mental abilities which help us process information our brains receive from external stimuli, diminishes. This will result in some of or all of the following:
Memory loss Difficulty in solving problems Inability in completing familiar tasks Time and place confusion Visual conception problems Problems with writing and speaking Inability to retrace steps mentally Poor judgment Social withdrawal Mood and personality changes
Although it is hard to answer the question What is Alzheimers? the main feature of Alzheimers is that the nerve cells within the brain die. This is caused due to the fact that the connection between the neurons are interrupted or completely blocked. In advanced Alzheimers, the brain tissue is shrunk tremendously.
A worrying factor about Alzheimers disease is it is a slowly developing disease. You can have a light to mildly developed form of Alzheimers up to 20 years before you are clinically diagnosed.
How Is Alzheimers Diagnosed And Treated
Doctors may ask questions about health, conduct cognitive tests, and carry out standard medical tests to determine whether to diagnose a person with Alzheimers disease. If a doctor thinks a person may have Alzheimers, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further assessment. Specialists may conduct additional tests, such as brain scans or lab tests of spinal fluid, to help make a diagnosis. These tests measure signs of the disease, such as changes in brain size or levels of certain proteins.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are several medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can help manage some symptoms of the disease along with coping strategies to manage behavioral symptoms. In 2021, FDA provided accelerated approval for a new medication, aducanumab, that targets the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimers. The new medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits, but has not yet been shown to affect clinical symptoms or outcomes, such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia.
Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimers. Researchers are exploring other drug therapies and nondrug interventions to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms.
Also Check: What Is Late Onset Alzheimer’s
Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Mood And Personality Changes
Sudden changes in personality and mood swings are possible signs of dementia. Your family member could become fearful, paranoid, suspicious, depressed, or anxious.
Increased anger could also be a warning sign of dementia. If someone with dementia gets frustrated or overwhelmed, they could react with aggression. A normally calm, peaceful person who has dementia might:
- Yell or scream
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A Failing Sense Of Direction
A persons sense of direction and spatial orientation commonly starts to get worse with the onset of dementia. They may have difficulty recognizing once-familiar landmarks and forget how to get to familiar places they used to have no trouble finding.
It may also become more difficult to follow a series of directions and step-by-step instructions.
Early Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Each person is unique and may experience symptoms differently, but common warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimers disease can include:
1. Memory loss that affects daily life
Changes in short-term memory that disrupt routine activities or job skills forgetting important dates or events repeatedly asking the same questions relying on memory aids or other people to remember things.
2. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Having problems with routine tasks at home, work or during recreational activities examples could include difficulty with cooking, driving, using a cell phone or shopping.
3. Challenges with problem-solving or planning
Having trouble working through processes they have done consistently, for a long time examples could include paying bills or cooking recipes they have used for years.
4. New problems with vocabulary when speaking or writing
Having trouble following or joining a conversation, or struggling to find the right word when trying to name a familiar object.
5. Confusion or disorientation to time and place
Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time forgetting where they are located at a given time, or how they got there.
6. Withdrawal from normal activities
Not wanting to participate in normal work, family or social activities examples could include avoiding going to church, not being able to follow football games, movies or keep up with what is happening.
7. Personality or mood changes
9. Diminished or poor judgment
Stage : Mild Dementia Moderate Cognitive Decline
With stage 4 Alzheimer’s disease, physicians are able to detect clear signs of Alzheimer’s disease in clinical interviews and after careful evaluation. Those with this stage of Alzheimer’s disease may experience difficulty remembering aspects of their personal life experiences and display reduced comprehension of current events. Other defining signs of this stage include:3
- Reduced understanding of current events or news
- Difficulty remembering aspects of personal history and life experiences
- Inability to repeatedly subtract by 7 starting from 100, which is found through a cognitive test
- Inability to travel independently, handle finances, or perform complicated tasks
- Denial of memory problems
- Lack of emotional expression
- Frequent withdrawal from challenging or stressful social situations
People with stage 4 Alzheimer’s disease are generally able to remember what time and day it is, where they are, and recognize familiar faces.
Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
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Know These 10 Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
What’s typical and what’s not?
The Alzheimer’s Association lists the following 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If someone is concerned that they or someone they know is displaying any of these symptoms, the organization recommends making an appointment with a physician to get a medical exam.
You can also contact the association’s 24-hour help line at 272-3900.
The 10 warning signs:
1. MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE. One of the most common and early signs is forgetting recently learned information. Others include: forgetting important dates or events, asking the same question over and over or increasingly needing to rely on memory aids for things you used to handle on your own.
What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
2. CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS. Some people with dementia may see changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
A typical age-related change: Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.
3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS. People living with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete routine tasks or drive to a familiar location, organize a grocery list or remember the rules of a favorite game.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers
Memory problems are often one of the first signs of Alzheimers. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may include problems with:
- Word-finding, or having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age.
- Vision and spatial issues, like awareness of the space around them.
- Impaired reasoning or judgment, which can impact decisions.
Other symptoms may be changes in the persons behavior, including:
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.
- Repeating questions.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Wandering and getting lost.
- Losing things or misplacing them in odd places.
- Mood and personality changes.
- Increased anxiety and/or aggression.
What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age but are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. A doctor can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if a person has MCI. People with MCI are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimers disease, so its important to see a doctor or specialist regularly if you have this condition.
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What Can You Do About It
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 65 has dementia. Though the disease affects each patient differently, most people with Alzheimer’s live only 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.
While you cannot reverse dementia or the damage it causes, there are ways to improve quality of life. Here are some simple tips for management that you can discuss with your doctor:
- Take prescription medications to counteract cognitive and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Find support in the form of therapy, support groups, friends, or family to help develop coping mechanisms for cognitive and behavioral changes.
- Address safety issues in the home by installing safety bars in the bathroom and shower, automatic shut-off switches on appliances, and reminders to lock the door.
- Stay on top of co-existing conditions, working with your doctor to manage medical problems with the proper form of treatment.
- Follow a healthy diet that supports brain health and function. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, natural sources of omega fatty acids, and foods high in fiber and protein.
- Talk to your doctor about taking supplements to support memory and cognitive function. Options you might consider include caprylic acid, coenzyme Q10, ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3 fatty acids.