Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease
In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Increased sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.
Daily Tasks Become Impossible
People can often be distracted and forget to do something simple, like adding an item to their grocery list. However, someone with Alzheimers will begin to find performing regular tasks, such as grocery shopping itself, challenging. Routine day-to-day tasks that require critical thinking may become more challenging as the disease progresses. It can start with the most challenging tasks being impossible, such as creating a budget or planning a holiday dinner, to simple tasks like going to the grocery store becoming impossible.
You will notice that your loved one struggles with things that seem simple and obvious to you. They might also start to avoid these tasks altogether because theyve become so challenging. For example, you may notice rotting food in the fridge because your loved one cant make a grocery list or navigate the grocery store, or theyve forgotten how to cook their usual meals. These symptoms might seem like casual slip ups at first but will become more obvious and concerning with time.
What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .
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Understanding Alzheimers And Dementia
Scientists believe that Alzheimers and dementia occur after a buildup of proteins in the brain that then causes neurons to lose connection with other neurons and die. The buildup usually begins decades before any symptoms show up and can happen in any part of the brain. Alzheimers disease is one of the most common forms of dementia. In fact, it is one of the seventh-leading causes of death in the United States.
Other forms of dementia include:
- Lewy body dementia
- Parkinsons disease
- Huntingtons disease
Symptoms of dementia can become so severe that patients forget basic skills like walking or reading a book or forgetting when to eat. At Baptist Retirement Community, our certified medical staff and therapists work closely with residents with Alzheimers or dementia to help restore cognitive function and improve their quality of life.
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.
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Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
Mood And Personality Changes
A common symptom of early dementia is mood change, often with sharp mood swings, irritability and lashing out. Particularly noticeable if that isnât characteristic. So, someone could be calm and happy one minute and then burst into tears or start shouting the next, for seemingly no reason. They may also experience a personality change, perhaps becoming more extroverted than before.
- Dementia can cause sharp mood swings, irritability and lashing out.
- May be happy one minute and upset or angry the next, for no apparent reason.
- May experience a personality change, such as increased extroversion.
What’s The Life Expectancy Of A Person With Dementia
Theres no easy way to answer this question. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers the many different types of underlying neurodegenerative diseases.
Each type of neurodegenerative disease has its own unique pattern and development in each person. Also, each person has a unique health profile. Some people may be relatively healthy and others may have several co-existing health issues. All of these factors play a role in the pace of decline in a person with dementia.
To answer more broadly, Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia. The average lifespan after the earliest symptoms is eight years. However, some people have lived as long as 20 years after an Alzheimers disease diagnosis.
Early Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that impacts memory, behaviors and cognitive abilities. Its estimated that 5.8 million Americans 65 and older are living with Alzheimers disease. This form of dementia is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
Understanding the early warning signs of Alzheimers disease is crucial to the individuals quality of life. An early diagnosis provides a better chance of benefiting from treatments. Additionally,i dentifying the disease early helps the patient prepare emotionally, mentally and physically for whats to come. Multiple therapies and treatments are available that can work to slow the diseases progress.
Here are the top 10 early warning signs of Alzheimers disease.
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What To Do If You Think You Or A Loved One May Have Dementia
Blood tests and other studies are usually the first steps in ruling out the conditions that mimic dementia. The next step is cognitive testing, during which your provider or a brain specialist asks questions to check things like memory, awareness, and language skills.
Depending on the results, your provider may order imaging tests of the brain. These can help them determine the next steps.
Diagnosing dementia often takes time, both to rule out other conditions and to observe how the symptoms progress.
Putting Things In The Wrong Place
Losing things or putting things in strange places, and then being unable to retrace steps to find them again is on the official observation list for early signs of dementia.
Sometimes someone else might be accused of stealing which may occur more frequently over time. For example, your dad may insist that a friend keeps stealing his money, whereas its in its regular hiding place.
Other examples that may indicate potential dementia symptoms could include:
- Teabags in the fridge and leaving the milk out
- Toothbrush in the washing basket
- Remote control in the cutlery drawer
- Dirty laundry in the dishwasher
Misplacing or losing items is more common in Alzheimers Disease, rather than vascular dementia. Find out more about the different types of dementia here.
This is different to: more normal age-related behaviours such as losing things but being able to retrace the steps to find them.
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Alzheimers Disease And Dementia
It is true that Alzheimers and Dementia are similar in nature. In fact, most people consider them one of the same. However, it is the Alzheimers disease that is the most common cause of dementia- which is a decline in skills, such as thinking, behavioral, and social skills. It can prevent many problems in how seniors communicate and function. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 5.8 million people that are over 65 in the Nation are affected by this disease. And the percentage rises the older you get. Of these 5.8 million people, 80 percent are over 75. Plus, the statistics on Alzheimers disease are continuing to rise with more Baby Boomers heading into the last stages of aging each year.
Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person can usually function independently, making disease detection tricky. Here are a few signs of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease:
- Having difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings
- Forgetting something you’d just read
- Losing or misplacing valuable objects
- Experiencing trouble with planning or organizing
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Stage : Moderate Dementia
Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.
While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.
Withdrawal From Work Or Social Activities
It is also common for seniors to become withdrawn or may isolate themselves from people that were once close to them. It can start with either between work associates or family members. Seniors may withdraw from social activities, events, or gatherings. Sometimes seniors will even stop doing hobbies, or have trouble with keeping up on their favorite team or activity. Caregivers or family can notice this sign more when someone goes from a social butterfly to not wanting to even leave the house.
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What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
The early signs of dementia may vary depending on the cause of dementia. Some of the early signs include
- A progressive decline in memory
- Inability to focus and concentrate
- Repeatedly asking the same questions
- Forgetting something they just read or heard
- Trouble staying organized
- Finding it difficult to make and execute plans
- Forgetting names
- A lack of interest in the surroundings. The person avoids holding conversations or participating in activities.
- Inability to remember personal details such as phone number and home address.
- They may confuse people and relations. For example, they may confuse their wife with their mother.
- They forget names, but may recognize faces.
- They may exhibit loss of bowel and bladder control.
- Abnormal visual perceptions such as hallucinations and inability to detect movement or see the difference between colors.
- The person needs help for basic needs such as eating, drinking, sitting up and walking. Eventually, they may even forget how to smile or swallow their food properly.
- They often develop stiffness and joint deformities.
The Seven Stages Of Dementia
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
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Trouble Comprehending Visual Images
For some seniors that are diagnosed with Alzheimers disease may also develop vision problems. They may have a hard time distinguishing colors, textures, or contrast images. Seniors can also find it hard to judge distances or have difficulties with balance. Problems in reading and driving are also common signs of people with Alzheimers. These vision changes may be due to cataracts as well. Getting a routine eye exam and check up is recommended for those experiencing these signs.
What Happens In The Early Stage Of Dementia
Dementia affects everyone differently and early symptoms are often relatively mild and not always easy to notice.
Many people at the early stage of dementia stay largely independent and only need a bit of assistance with daily living. It is important to focus on what the person can do and not to take over and do things for them. Instead, try doing things with them, for example helping the person develop a routine, reminder lists and prompts, and use technology.
For more information for people living with dementia, see the ‘Keeping active and involved‘ page.
The early stage of dementia is when many people choose to make plans for the future, while they still have the ability to do so. This includes making a Lasting power of attorney , and advance decisions and advance statements to ensure their wishes and preferences are made clear.
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Baptist Retirement Community: Support For Seniors With Symptoms Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
At Baptist Retirement Community, we know how difficult it can be to care for seniors with increasing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimers. Our team of medical professionals and certified therapists use proven methods for improving cognitive function. We also provide plenty of fun activities and social gatherings in a safe and secure facility.
If your aging parents or loved ones are showing signs of Alzheimers or dementia, call today to see how our senior memory care program can help.
Promoting Early Diagnosis Of Dementia
The early symptoms of dementia can include memory problems, difficulties in word finding and thinking processes, changes in personality or behaviour, a lack of initiative or changes in day to day function at home, at work or in taking care of oneself. This information does not include details about all of these warning signs, so it is recommended that you seek other sources of information. If you notice signs in yourself or in a family member or friend, it is important to seek medical help to determine the cause and significance of these symptoms.
Obtaining a diagnosis of dementia can be a difficult, lengthy and intensive process. While circumstances differ from person to person, Dementia Australia believes that everyone has the right to:
- A thorough and prompt assessment by medical professionals,
- Sensitive communication of a diagnosis with appropriate explanation of symptoms and prognosis,
- Sufficient information to make choices about the future,
- Maximal involvement in the decision making process,
- Ongoing maintenance and management, and
- Access to support and services.
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How Is Dementia Diagnosed
Confirming a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult. Many diseases and conditions can cause or lead to dementia. In addition, many of its symptoms are common to many other illnesses.
Your healthcare provider will:
- Ask about the course of your symptoms.
- Ask about your medical history.
- Review your current medications.
- Ask about your family history of disease including dementia.
They may also order tests, including laboratory tests, imaging tests and neurocognitive tests .
Neurologists and geriatricians may assist in making the diagnosis of dementia.
Laboratory tests rule out other diseases and conditions as the cause of dementia, such as infection, inflammation, underactive thyroid and vitamin deficiency .
Sometimes, healthcare providers order cerebrospinal fluid tests to evaluate autoimmune conditions and neurodegenerative diseases, if warranted.
Your healthcare provider may order the following imaging tests of your brain:
During neurocognitive testing, your healthcare provider uses written and computerized tests to evaluate your mental abilities, including:
- Problem solving.
A mental health professional may check for signs of depression, mood changes or other mental health issues that might cause memory loss.
What Are The Causes Of Dementia
Dementia is caused by damage to your brain. Dementia affects your brains nerve cells, which destroys your brains ability to communicate with its various areas. Dementia can also result from blocked blood flow to your brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. Without oxygen and nutrients, brain tissue dies.
Damage to your brain results in different symptoms, depending on the area of your brain affected. Some dementias arent reversible and will worsen over time. Other dementias are due to other medical conditions that also affect your brain. Another group of health issues can result in dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions are treatable, and the dementia symptoms are reversible.
All of the possible causes of dementia are discussed in the question, Are there different types of dementia?
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