Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects the brain. Symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, treatments are available to help people manage their symptoms. These treatments include medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. As explained by the Alz Research Association, early diagnosis is key to the best outcomes, which is why it’s so important to recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s early one. Keep reading to learn what they are.
Decreased Abstract Thinking
Although Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly associated with memory loss and confusion, it can also present with early changes in thinking and reasoning abilities. In fact, one of the earliest symptoms of AD may be difficulty with abstract thinking. What is abstract thinking? Abstract thinking involves the ability to think about things in a general way, without getting too caught up in the details. For example, you might be able to think about the concept of “love” without thinking about any specific love story or relationship. You might also be able to think about the concept of “justice” without thinking about any particular legal case. People with AD may have difficulty with abstract thinking because they are no longer able to see the big picture. They may become fixated on specific details, and lose the ability to think about things in a broader context. This can lead to problems with planning and problem-solving, and may even make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks.
Changes in Memory
Memory changes can manifest themselves in a number of ways. People with Alzheimer’s may forget things they recently learned or experienced, have difficulty recalling names or faces, or become confused about dates and times. Memory loss is usually gradual but progressive, meaning it gets worse over time.
People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in judgment and decision-making abilities early on in the course of the disease. These changes can cause individuals to make poor decisions that can have serious consequences. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may forget to take their medications, leading to health problems, or may forget to properly cook food, leading to food poisoning. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may also be more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors, such as driving when they are no longer able to do so safely. These poor judgments can be very frustrating for caregivers and can cause a great deal of stress.
Trouble Focusing on Tasks
People with Alzheimer’s disease may also have trouble focusing on tasks or paying attention for long periods of time, which can make completing everyday tasks difficult. In some cases, people with Alzheimer’s may become easily confused or may not be able to understand what is happening around them. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and confusion for the person with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.
Confusion With Time or Place
Confusion with time or place, such as sundowning for people with dementia, is one of the top early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This symptom can manifest itself in a number of ways, including difficulty remembering recent events, getting lost in familiar surroundings, or becoming disoriented about the current date or time. For people with Alzheimer’s disease, this confusion can be extremely frustrating and even frightening. One common example of this symptom is forgetting what you did just a few minutes ago. You may forget where you are or what you were doing, or start to do something but then forget how to complete it. Another common sign is mixing up names of people you know well or using the wrong word when speaking. You may also have trouble following conversations because you can’t keep track of what was said previously.
Altogether, the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease are important indicators of the disease’s progression. They can help individuals and their families to understand their loved one’s condition and to make decisions about care.