Written by MindMate Staff
Alzheimer's disease can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms, many of which can be extremely distressing, both for the person and their loved ones. The following list is not exhaustive but provides a strong idea of what to be aware of and what to look for, if you suspect that symptoms you or a family member are experiencing are not normal.
1. Memory Problems:
Perhaps the most obvious and well-known symptom of any form of Dementia has to do with memory. Whilst all of us can be prone to forgetfulness here and there, Alzheimer's is characterized by memory problems which affect everyday life and interfere with situations and circumstances on a daily basis. This can manifest itself in a few different ways, such as:
The onset of these problems can be slow, and you a person with Alzheimers’ may even seem normal in brief interactions as they often remember details and events from a long time ago, but struggle only with short-term memory.
2. Becoming confused about time or place:
People with Alzheimer’s generally seem to lose track of time, they may be unaware of the passing of time and as a result become unaware of dates, seasons or other milestones. They may also struggle to recognize their surroundings and find it difficult to find their way home or around even the most familiar of surroundings.
3. Difficulties with planning & solving problems:
People with Alzheimer’s struggle with routine. They find it hard to follow plans or instructions, and completing tasks is far more difficult for them than it may have been before, and will take far longer. They also find it near impossible to learn new things.
4. Personality & mood changes:
Personality changes are another significant early sign of Alzheimer’s. A person with the condition may become more withdrawn, depressed and prone to agitation. Others may become more outgoing than they previously were. The person is also unlikely to notice the change in themselves.
5. Decreased or poor judgement:
People with Alzheimer’s may make irrational or absurd decisions about spending money, choosing what to wear or what they say. These displays of poor judgement are a typical early warning sign.
6. Communication Problems:
People affected by this early symptom struggle to find a particular word and start explaining around it. They might have problems with following and joining conversations and take longer to express themselves.
7. Withdrawal from Social Situations:
A person with Alzheimer’s finds it hard to follow conversations and often does not understand what is going on around them at a particular moment. As a result, they are likely to isolate themselves and be less concerned about spending time with family and friends.
8. Unable to Adapt to Change:
Because people with Alzheimer's find it difficult to learn, adapting to change is almost impossible as they simply cannot process new information about places, people or situations. They may also fear not recognising people or places.
9. Poor Perception:
People with Alzheimer's often lack spatial awareness. This makes every day activities difficult or even dangerous. For example, driving a car gets challenging for people with dementia as they might not be able to perceive spatial relationships that they need to park and properly navigate the vehicle. Colors are often difficult to differentiate except if they are very bright.
A person with Alzheimer’s will sometimes put things in unusual places or forget someone they have met before. They will frequently muddle their thoughts and find it difficult to keep up with situations and conversations.
Ultimately, it’s important to realize that simply becoming a bit forgetful or experiencing confusion does not necessarily imply Alzheimer's. Such symptoms might just be a normal sign of aging, but if you are in any doubt at all, speak to your doctor or practitioner as soon as possible.