According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is defined as a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms gradually worsen over time. What may begin as simple forgetfulness or lapses in memory can become severe enough to start interfering with daily life.
It’s important to note that developing Alzheimer’s disease is not considered a normal part of the aging process. However, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 60 to 80 percent of all cases. Risk factors include age and family history, but certain lifestyle choices can also play a role in the development of the disease, such as living a sedentary lifestyle or eating an unhealthy diet. Plus, some common health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels may also increase the risk.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will vary among individuals, but there are some common early signs to watch for. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, an early diagnosis allows for treatment to begin immediately that may help slow the progression of the disease. These warning signs of Alzheimer’s include:
One of the most recognizable signs of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss that interferes with a previously vibrant lifestyle. Individuals may forget information they recently learned, miss appointments, neglect to take medications, and more.
Trouble finding words to describe common objects or feelings, calling loved ones by the wrong names, or struggling with writing are also common signs of Alzheimer’s. Or, individuals may have difficulty following along in a conversation or successfully expressing a thought.
Everyday tasks such as cleaning, balancing a checkbook, or cooking dinner can become troublesome for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Or, they may complete these tasks but make worrisome mistakes, like paying bills late or using expired foods.
Space and time confusion can lead to those with Alzheimer’s finding familiar surroundings suddenly foreign, or they will insist they’ve never been there before. Driving and getting to places they frequently visit, like the pharmacy or grocery store, becomes challenging, too. They may lose track of time and forget what day, month or even season it is.
Sudden changes in normal behavior are another common symptom of Alzheimer’s. It’s typical for individuals to exhibit fear, become suspicious of others, or display signs of depression. While it’s normal to sometimes feel sad or out of sorts, a person with Alzheimer’s may suddenly shift from being happy and content to angry and anxious without any real cause.
Those with Alzheimer’s are more likely to fall victim to senior scams or begin making poor financial decisions. Poor judgment can also lead to changes in grooming or hygiene habits, or dressing inappropriately for the season.
Memory loss can make it difficult for individuals to enjoy social situations. Perhaps issues with memory have made it challenging to remember the rules to the weekly card game or how to finish a project they just started.
At Advent Christian Village, the staff in our memory care wing undergoes specialized training relating to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Upon completion, these caring employees become Artists of Dementia Care, dedicated to improving the lives of both those with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. We invite you to contact us to schedule a personal, guided tour so you can see all that ACV has to offer.