How to recognize symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a disease which impairs memory, causes changes in behavior and makes normal day to day functioning impossible. What is worse, the condition progresses with age and deepens the negative changes. How do you recognize it?
Alzheimer’s most often affects people above 65 years of age, although it can also occur earlier. Currently there are over 30 million people affected by the disease and it is estimated, that in the year 2050 one per every 85 people will suffer its symptoms. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, patients usually live an average of about 7 years. This is because halting the progress or curing the disease is impossible.
What signals should be disturbing? How to recognize, that forgetting about events or where someone put their glasses is not a sign of old age or excess of responsibilities, but development of an illness?
Problems with memory
This is one of the most common symptoms of dementia. In the diseases early stage there are occurrences of short term memory loss. The afflicted person can forget about a meeting, a piece of gossip which they have just heard from a neighbor at the store, where they put their keys, they tell the same story several times over.
In the subsequent stage these problems deepen. The afflicted person begins to forget facts and events which took place in the past, while in an advanced stage – they do not recognize their loved ones and even themselves while looking in the mirror. They can also have problems with personal hygiene.
Problems with communication
Issues with memory loss also have another serious effect – language problems. People afflicted with Alzheimer’s often cannot remember certain words, which is why their sentences more often than not become cut short or feature holes filled with “there” or “this”. Aphasia, a loss of the ability to speak, is accompanied by a disruption of the ability to recognize items (agnosia). Senile people may therefore have problems with handing the item, which we ask for.
Issues with day to day activities
As the disease progresses, there are also problems with attention, concentration, abstract thinking. As a result, ordinary day to day responsibilities, like planning daily activities or a monthly budget, shopping and calculating the cost of groceries become an unsolvable problem. Movement disability and sensory disorders also make it impossible to perform actions such as drawing, writing and dressing.
Problems with temporal and spatial orientation
People suffering from Alzheimer’s often have problems with determining the day of the week and the date. What is more, they sometimes lose their spatial orientation. They do not know why they are in a certain place and how they got there. They cannot make their way home. This issue is worsened by the fact, that in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s the patient is no longer aware of their limitations.
Problems with finding items
For a healthy person finding their car keys, wallet, glasses or newspaper is not a problem. Even if we did not put them in the same place as usual, we can recall what actions we performed in sequence after getting home, and based on that establish the location of the missing item. In the case of persons suffering from dementia, the above is impossible.
Changes in behavior
Increasing neurological problems are inseparably linked with mood changes. Depressive behaviors, irritability and aggression can occur even with people who were up to that point full of joy and exceptionally calm.
Withdrawal from social life and hobbies
Memory and concentration issues, as well as mood changes result in a gradual withdrawal from social life. People who eagerly met with friends withdraw from their relations established up to a certain point. Those who used to lead a very active life, exercised and had hobbies and passions, slowly lose the joy in life, which is replaced by apathy and senility.