I think we all know it is difficult to recognize people with Alzheimer’s. Especially when it comes to someone at an early stage of the disease. Often this happens because the first symptoms and signs are dismissed, like “they are just ailments that affect everyone who gets older”. An important thing to know is that dementia does not affect everyone who gets older. Some 80-and 90-year-olds are still very ‘aware’, but unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky and already suffer from the first symptoms of the disease before their 60th birthday. What kind of symptoms and signs are these and what exactly should you pay attention to?
1. Having difficulty remembering things
Memory loss is one of the first and best known symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease. In the early stages, someone often forgets what he or she has been doing in the past week, important dates and events and people he or she has recently met. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember things. It is indeed true that the older one becomes, the more one ‘forgets’ and can remember at a later time. This is what makes the difference between Alzheimer and old age. As for Alzheimer’s, you have permanently lost the information and as for old age, you just need a brief moment to remember.
2. Having difficulty finding the right words
This too is an early sign that your memory is letting you down because of Alzheimer’s. Initially, it is difficult to find words that someone does not use often, but the further the disease progresses, the more words are difficult to find. Even simple words, like apple or cheese. Again, it is more common for older people (without dementia) to not be able to find certain words, but they will manage to find the right words eventually. If someone really lost the word, this may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s.
3. Having difficulty finishing daily activities
For someone in the early days of Alzheimer’s, it becomes difficult to perform the usual daily tasks, such as (taking medication several times a day) or writing a shopping list. Older people who do not have Alzheimer’s may occasionally need help with everyday things, such as shopping, but they do not forget to take their medication and can also cook independently, because they do not forget to turn off the stove.
4. Having difficulty with finances
People who suffer from an early form of Alzheimer’s often forget to check and execute their expenses, taxes and other financial tasks.
5. Getting lost
Alzheimer’s at an early stage also ensures that an affected person can no longer remember how he or she should walk, cycle or drive to a familiar place. He or she can not remember the way (back) and can therefore get lost. On the other hand: getting lost in a place where you have not been around for centuries or a place which is hard to find, can happen to anyone. Even young people.
6. Losing track
Inability to follow a difficult storyline, having difficulty in following a conversation or forgetting what he or she is about to say in the middle of the sentence, can be signs of (early) Alzheimer’s disease. If it only happens occasionally, for example during a boring conversation and eventually losing focus, there is probably no reason to worry.
7. Forgetting where you left things
It regularly happens that people with early dementia put things in strange places and do not know where they left it afterwards. If you find a scattered cup in the refrigerator instead of in the kitchen cupboard: do not worry. Does it happen more often or with different items? It may be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
8. Personality and/or mood swings
Someone with Alzheimer’s can become anxious, depressed, paranoid or even aggressive, even if there are no clear reasons for it.
People with Alzheimer’s disease tend to be socially withdrawn and give up their hobbies & other activities, because it is harder for them to understand the world and communication with and between others. Older people can withdraw from some activities for various reasons. Often, ‘a lack of energy’ is the reason. Is there another cause, such as the communication problem? Go talk to him or her or make an appointment with the doctor.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to do your own research. To get you started, take a look at our related searches below: