We all occasionally misplace our belongings or have problems remembering a new acquaintance’s name. Infrequent lapses like these aren’t unusual in the course of modern life.
What isn’t normal, however, is memory loss that regularly impacts daily life. If an older loved one is routinely forgetting important appointments or getting lost in familiar places, it might be a sign of something more serious, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
How Common is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s. The disease affects one in ten adults over the age of 65. Because it is a degenerative illness, symptoms will worsen over time.
In the middle and late stages of the disease, the symptoms aren’t difficult to spot. But the early signs of Alzheimer’s are easy to miss. These are the red flags to be aware of if you are concerned a senior loved one might be developing Alzheimer’s.
6 Common Symptoms of Early Alzheimer's
- Memory problems: Short-term memory loss is the symptom most people are familiar with. An older adult who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s might be unable to recall information they have just learned. It might be a meeting or appointment they just scheduled, or the name of a new neighbor. You might notice your loved one is asking you to repeat answers to the same questions over and over.
- Withdrawing from favorite pastimes: Another early sign something might be wrong is when the senior’s habits and pastimes begin to change. They might suspect something is wrong but not know what. Because they are embarrassed, they might withdraw from social clubs and their favorite hobbies.
- Mistakes with money: Seniors with Alzheimer’s might pay some bills twice while neglecting others completely. They often have trouble maintaining their checkbook and managing household expenses. Some make questionable financial decisions, such as buying an expensive car they can’t afford or giving away money. These behaviors are concerning for all seniors, but they can also be signs of early Alzheimer’s.
- Misplacing belongings: Have you found your senior loved one’s keys in the freezer or their wallet in the microwave? Placing personal belongings in strange places is a red flag for Alzheimer’s. When a senior in the early stages of the disease loses something, they might not be able to remember where they were during the day and be unable to retrace their steps.
- Getting lost in once familiar places: An adult with Alzheimer’s disease may get lost easily, even in places they have visited many times. Among the earliest signs of the disease is a senior getting confused about how to get to or from a familiar destination like the grocery store or post office.
- Communication problems: Older adults with early stage Alzheimer’s may struggle with written and verbal communication. They might have problems forming sentences to write a letter or email or forget everyday words. Sometimes, a senior with Alzheimer’s will call objects by the wrong name.
Facing the thought that a family member may have Alzheimer’s disease is daunting. Denial among loved ones is common. But an early diagnosis is important for many reasons, ranging from exploring symptom management options to planning for future care needs.
We invite you to visit a Sunrise Reminiscence neighborhood to learn more about dementia care planning for a loved one.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living