While often times we focus on solutions to specific ailments or problems, sometimes simply recognizing that there’s a problem to begin with is more than half the battle.
There are more than 30 million elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s unfortunately one of the more common forms of old age dementia, and it’s often times difficult to diagnose. Early stages of this type of dementia can go unnoticed and may easily be mistaken for the forgetfulness that we assume comes with aging.
There are some clues however to point you in the direction of what could be going on. If it turns out that you or your loved one has any of the following symptoms, if might be worth exploring further with the assistance of your doctor.
1) Memory Loss
Someone who can’t remember their 9th birthday party isn’t showing you a red flag. Someone who asks you questions that you’ve answered multiple times in the previous hour is. If you have a loved one who repeatedly asks for information that was just presented, it’s a sign that they’re struggling with their short-term memory.
Memory loss is accompanied by depression, which usually develops many years ahead of memory loss. It drives our beloved elders to retreat from society and into solitude more and more, until eventually they disconnect completely.
2) Challenges with Basic Tasks
Have you noticed your loved one struggling with small tasks that they had previously executed without difficulty, such as making simple calculations, paying monthly bills, or following basic directions of any kind?
These challenges lead to feelings of incompetence and further societal withdrawal, and subsequently depression. They feel as though they can’t catch up with the outside world.
3) Familiar Tasks are Suddenly Unfamiliar
Driving, dialing frequently used phone numbers and other such habits are second nature to most of us. But what if they’re suddenly not as simple? Your loved one might be wondering why something that was previously so routine has become so difficult to follow. Dementia progresses on a daily basis, so it could take some time before you notice this often enough to where it becomes a glaring issue.
Confusion can be marked by an inability to track the passage of time, remember important dates, or even getting lost in previously familiar environments. In addition, your loved one might suddenly get stuck in the middle of a thought. Fond memories seem to be blocked and out of reach for them. When leaving a place, they might forget the way back to it.
5) Difficulties Judging Images, Distances and Colors
For a loved one suffering from dementia, color and contrast can become hard to determine. Judging distances or reflections in a mirror can also lead to confusion. The sufferer is slowly losing their ability to focus on basic cognitive tasks, which are largely undermined by progressing depression, leading to complete loss of will for any cognitive stimulation.
This disease strains the lives of not only the sufferer, but those close to the person as well. Recognizing the early symptoms can be immensely helpful in establishing options for prevention of rapid degeneration, symptom management and in some cases, improvement.