Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Of the 850,000 people in the UK living with the condition, 62% have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.a Causing a slow erosion of memory, reasoning and thought, it is a progressive disease with no known cure. Spotting the signs are early are crucial to living well with the condition.
__ Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in a different degree. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.__
1. Losing thoughts
The most known symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. If your loved one is forgetting important dates conversations, faces, places or events, has become increasingly reliant on memory aids (such as pen and paper), or asks repetitive questions.
This could be a sign the part of the brain that deals with short-term memory, the hippocampus, is degrading. Your loved one should see a doctor if this is having an impact of daily activities.
2. Struggles problem solving
Solving those daily problems is a large part of remaining autonomous. If your loved one is having an issue planning or solving a problem, such as following a recipe or managing their personal finances, this could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
If you think it’s really starting to impact on their daily life, it’s time to see a doctor. You should also evaluate whether your loved one needs someone to help out at home.
3. Struggling with tasks
When brain functionality starts degrading as result of Alzheimer’s even those tasks which we seemingly usually do on autopilot become a struggle. If your loved on is finding it difficult to remember directions to a familiar destination, is struggling to keep their home in good condition, or is unable even to make a cup of tea, this could be a sign of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.
4. Confusion with time
A struggle to comprehend the perception of time is something we all have to deal with, but if you have Alzheimer’s this struggle becomes increasingly acute. This is because, as cognitive ability declines, your loved one might actually find it difficult to understand what the numbers on the clocks actually mean.
5. Being ‘wobbly’
A difficulty comprehending distances is another warning sign. You may initially see this by a struggle to park a car, an unusual fear of heights (vertigo) or simply difficulty maintaining balance.
People often just put this down to being a bit ‘wobbly’, or ‘just old age’ - but if you see difficulties with spatial awareness that are particularly out of character, it’s important that you contact a doctor.
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6. Words not coming
The words simply not coming during a conversation, a struggle to find more complex vocabulary and calling things with the wrong name, can all be indications of Alzheimer’s. These difficulties also come into focus in the written word - accidental repetition, muddled syntax or spelling errors of even basic words are common warning signs to take notice of.
7. Losing things
We’re all forgetful and can be prone to losing items such as keys, mobile phone or remote control. But if your loved one is continuing to lose items out of the ordinary, or is accusing others of stealing, this may be a sign of dementia - such as Alzheimer’s.
8. Mood swings
If you notice more anxious moods, feelings of depression, sleep disturbance, irrational agitated behaviour, hallucinations, delusions or restlessness. If you don’t live with your loved one, it can be difficult to gain an understanding of when these emotional fluctuations are occuring.
9. Poor judgement
If your loved one is becoming increasingly prone to giving in to the persuasion of telemarketers, has fallen for a simple con trick, or has displayed poor judgement when it comes to their personal finances, this could be an indication of the reduced cognitive performance Alzheimer’s induces.
A very early-stage hallmark of the disease, if your loved one is making poor decisions, you should try and observe if they are starting to show signs of any of the other symptoms. If they are, it might be time to seek medical attention.
10. Reduced social life
Has your loved one demonstrated a withdrawal from their favourite hobbies, interests and usual social routines? This may be nothing serious to worry about but it would also be a sign of a dementia. This is because those who live with dementia are often aware of changes to their personality which can lead to severe social anxiety.
11. Sight and hearing loss
Reduced functionality of the senses is something that we all have to deal with as we get older. But it’s always worth seeing as a warning sign. Always ensure to get any changes to hearing and vision followed by an appointment with a medical professional. Like all the symptoms in this list, when it comes to dementia, it’s better to take all precautions.
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Dementia: Your essential guide
We’ve worked with renowned dementia specialist, Beth Brittan, to put together this comprehensive guide to dementia. Understand what the condition is, how to live well with it, and what types of care is on offer for those that need it.