It’s normal for people to become forgetful as they age. So, how can one tell an innocent “senior moment” apart from this devastating form of dementia?
While in its early stages, Alzheimer’s may not be very obvious to friends and family, but there definitely are some early warning signs to watch out for!
MEMORY AND SPEECH
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the person struggles to remember short-term memories, even though long-term memories remain intact. The person has a hard time remembering short-term conversations; he may repeat questions you may have already answered.
The disease also represents with struggled speech and difficulty in remembering common words.
In addition to memory loss and struggled speech, Alzheimer’s may also cause mood swings and changes in behavior. A person may start feeling lost in places normally familiar. There may be frequent and sudden mood swings and delays in judgment.
The person with the disease may also stop caring about their hygiene. Once stylish people may stop looking that stylish and wear stained clothes, forget to wash their hair etc.
IT IS ESSENTIAL TO NOT IGNORE THE SIGNS
It is difficult to accept that a loved one may have a disease like Alzheimer’s. But running away from the truth never did any good to anyone. It is therefore vital to see a doctor for consultation sooner than later. Alzheimer’s is best treatable and manageable in its early stages. Sometimes the symptoms may be caused by a less severe problem such as thyroid imbalance. In any case, do not ignore the symptoms.
DIAGNOSIS OF ALZHEIMERS
There is no set test that could confirm the disease. Mostly the diagnosis is made by carefully observing the symptoms and progression of the disease. There is a blood test available that identifies ApoE as a risk for dementia.
CHANGES TO THE BRAIN
In Alzheimer’s, the brain cells start to die and so does the tissue. This results in shrinking of the brain and increase in areas of the brain containing cerebrospinal fluid. There is significant and progressive harm to memory, speech and comprehension.
LIFE-STYLE CHANGES TO EXPECT
As aforementioned, there is significant loss in balance, cognitive impairment and lapse in judgment. According to a study, one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s is difficult balancing the checkbook. The person may use utensils for improper purposes, like using a fork to comb hair. The person may have difficult performing every-day house chores like cooking or paying bills. Note that these activities require concentration, which is significantly affected in the disease.
You have to be patient with your loved one and may also have to take over most of this tasks.
SHOULD THE PERSON STILL BE EXPECTED TO DRIVE?
With lack of focus, confusion, not being able to remember the routes and feeling lost in familiar places, it is not safe place to be behind the wheel. If the person insists, tell your doctor to step in and help out. Explain your loved why it may be harmful and in what ways.
IS EXERCISE OF ANY HELP?
Exercise can uplift the person’s mood, making him feel less anxious. It can also help with muscle strength and coordination. It is essential also to give the person a sense of calm. Also try engaging him in activities such as gardening, walking, laundry-folding etc.
There is no proper cure for the disease, or to even slow down the nerve damage. There are however, are medications to slow the effects of the disease and delay mental instability. If the treatment is started early on, the person may learn to live independent.