Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
Currently, nearly 5.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition which can be devastating for the patient and family. And while there’s no cure or even proven way to dramatically slow Alzheimer’s, catching the disease as early as possible is still an effective measure in ensuring proper care that could lead to a less dramatic progression overall. Doctors believe that there are seven stages of Alzheimer’s, beginning with no impairment in Stage 1 and ultimately resulting in very severe decline in Stage 7. Here we’ll take a look at the earliest stages and certain signs and symptoms that start to appear in people who develop Alzheimer’s. By recognizing signs early in a loved one, you’ll be able to set up long-term and short-term care plans that will ease the transition to later stages of Alzheimer’s or possibly slow the progression of the disease.
Memory loss or even just memory lapses are usually the first signs in Alzheimer’s patients, particularly regarding everyday, familiar things like names, oft-traveled routes to work, or placement of keys. Many people experiencing these lapses will credit them to old age and won’t recognize a pattern immediately, but if they are consistently unable to remember them, you should watch for other signs, too. Familiar tasks may also become difficult to complete, such as regularly finding it hard to remember a recipe, pay bills, or remember patterns and directions.
Watch how your friend or family member participates in conversation, too. Having difficulty communicating a thought or suddenly dropping out of a conversation mid-sentence due to confusion is a warning sign, as is frequently mixing up or forgetting common words. Another potentially dangerous symptom in the early stages is the loss of ability to make quick decisions, as in an emergency. Look for changes in mood and behavior and increased anxiety at home, work and in social situations, as well as general decline in organization, making plans, reading maps, and retaining information from a conversation, TV show or from reading.
Determining signs of normal aging versus early onset Alzheimer’s can be frightening and frustrating, but know that the earlier Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, the more time you have to try different prescription drugs, set up a care plan with your doctor, and prevent accidents from happening due to your misunderstanding of their condition.
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