It’s normal to become more forgetful with age. Your senior loved one may misplace their keys from time to time or have trouble recalling a phone number. Could that be the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
While it’s true that some age-related memory loss is expected, dementia is not a normal part of getting older. In fact, most age-related memory problems are just a natural slowing of the brain’s processing speed. In addition, it may surprise you to know that memory loss is only one of several symptoms that indicate brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease. Along with memory problems, the other symptoms of Alzheimer’s can interfere with safely participating in life. If you or a loved one is experiencing several of these early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it’s time to talk to a doctor.
What Are the Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?Every senior progresses through dementia differently, but there are common warning signs that caregivers should look for. Learning about these red flags can help you know when your senior loved one may be experiencing some of the most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the first stages of the disease.
Difficulty Remembering InformationShort-term memory loss is the most common and recognizable early sign of dementia. Seniors with early signs of Alzheimer’s are unable to recall information they have just learned, such as forgetting a person’s name right after meeting them. You may notice your loved one loses track of important dates. They may also begin asking you to repeat things over and over.
Losing and Misplacing ObjectsAnother early sign of Alzheimer’s includes losing and misplacing objects. Have you found your Mom’s keys in the fridge? Does your Dad accuse you of hiding his wallet? Misplacing personal belongings in odd places is a red flag for Alzheimer’s. Those in the early stages of the disease lose objects and have no idea how to retrace their steps to find them.
Getting Lost or WanderingIn the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one may get lost easily in places they are familiar with. Confusion and disorientation are also common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s may cause seniors to have trouble driving, resulting in fender-benders and struggling to navigate once-familiar routes.
Speech ProblemsMany seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s forget everyday words and vocabulary. They call objects by the wrong name, for instance saying “window” when referring to a door. Because participating in conversations may become difficult for them, seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may avoid socializing to prevent embarrassment.
Trouble with FinancesPoor judgment, especially when it comes to money matters, is another early symptom of dementia. Questionable financial decisions, such as getting involved in scams or buying items from telephone salespeople, are concerning. This poor judgment can also result in struggles to pay bills or balance a checkbook, signals that may mean that a senior loved one is no longer able to safely live alone and care for him or herself.
Mood SwingsChanges in personality and behavior can be another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. People with the disease often exhibit uncharacteristic mood swings, such as going from calm to angry to tearful for no apparent reason. They also can seem anxious and agitated, an outcome of feeling overwhelmed by their brain’s inability to make sense of the world around them.
Help Your Loved One Get Checked for Early Signs of Alzheimer’sFacing the thought of Alzheimer’s is hard for caregivers and seniors alike. Denial is common.
Detecting the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s is the key to better treatment. It also allows you and your family to plan for the type of memory care that may be needed to ensure your senior loved one is safe and cared for.