World Alzheimer’s day is observed on 21 September every year to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This year’s theme will focus on warning signs of dementia. It will encourage people to seek information, advice and support in informing people about the signs and symptoms. The early signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be subtle and often difficult to differentiate from symptoms of the natural aging process. There are certain symptoms that may be early indicators of Alzheimer’s, especially if they persist and begin to disrupt daily life. If an early diagnosis is made, measures can be taken to manage the condition and make life better for affected individuals and their families.
World Alzheimer’s day 2021: Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
1. Disruptive memory loss
Memory loss that is persistent, progressive, beyond what is usual for a person’s age and that disrupts daily life is the most important initial symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Patient may forget important dates and appointments, keep asking the same questions repeatedly. They may rely increasingly on written or electronic reminders to cope with this problem.
2. Misplacing objects
People with Alzheimer’s disease may misplace things frequently. Unlike benign forgetfulness in people across all ages, they may keep things in illogical places, such as their wallet in a kitchen container. They also struggle to retrace the steps to locate lost objects. In such situations, they end up accusing family members of stealing their possessions.
3. Difficult in organizing thoughts and planning
They may find it difficult to concentrate and take significantly longer to complete tasks than before. Performing tasks that require more than one step and multi-tasking are particularly bothersome. Their ability to process abstract thoughts becomes increasingly compromised.
4. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Daily tasks are typically difficult for those with Alzheimer’s disease. They may forget how to make coffee in the morning, figure out what to wear, or how to tie their shoelaces. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location, making purchases in a market or remember the rules of a favourite game.
5. Orientation to time and place
Alzheimer’s patients often lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Patients may request food at inconvenient times. They may think that they are at a neighbour’s place while still at home. They may lose their way and struggle to return home after a walk. Later, wandering aimlessly is not uncommon, particularly late in the evening, a phenomenon called sundowning.
7. Trouble with spatial relationships
This may lead to difficulty in moving around at home. Moving to a new and unfamiliar location compounds the problem manifold. Difficulty in judging distance and discriminating colour contrast may further interfere with their ability to drive safely.
8. Language difficulty
People living with Alzheimer’s have trouble in joining or following a conversation. They frequently pause and lose the thread of conversations. This may result in their repeating themselves. They may also make up new words to describe objects if they cannot remember the correct name.
9. Poor judgement
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease may wear clothes which are not appropriate for the season. They may behave inappropriately on social occasions. Taking recourse to extravagant spending without understanding the need or the consequences can result in financial distress. Disregard for personal hygiene and grooming is one consequence of compromised judgement.
10. Social withdrawal and isolation
They may lose interest in family and social interactions that they once cherished and enjoyed. This may adversely impact their personal and work relationships.
11. Mood swings and changes in personality
Patient can become apathetic, confused, depressed, fearful, or anxious. Suspicion and paranoid ideation are common. Capgras syndrome is a condition in which patients have an irrational belief that someone they know has been replaced by an impostor. This causes great distress to family members.
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