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Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Moments of forgetfulness can plague all ages.  If these brief lapses come with a scare over your mental health, you are not alone.  The harsh reality of Alzheimer Disease is enough to make anyone concerned about their risk.   Given 1 in 10 people aged 65 or older have the disease, according to the 2017 Facts and Figures Report from the Alzheimer’s Association, it is likely we have all experienced the impact of Alzheimer’s first-hand with a family member or friend.

While we have all been impacted, we should not allow ourselves to assume dementia is a foregone conclusion as we age.  We are allowed to forget a name or misplace our keys from time to time without fearing the worst. 

We should also avoid dismissing frequent mental lapses as “Senioritis” as well. 

As we get older, our likelihood of suffering from Alzheimer’s increases – from 3 percent at ages 65 to 74, all the way to 32 percent for ages 85 and older.  A cure has not been discovered, but did you know identifying warning signs early can limit the impact on yourself and those you love? 

If you are concerned your forgetfulness might be more significant, compare how the following early warning signs might align with your daily experiences:

Daily “Speed Bumps”

Alzheimer’s often presents itself to us in our short-term memory first, forcing us to forget information we might have just learned.  Did you run in the store briefly and struggle to remember where you parked?  Do friends and family show frustration because you have asked the same question repeatedly?  These actions are tied to our short-term memory, and could be one of the earliest signs of a problem.

Confusion Over Time and Place

Keeping track of the date or our location can become a challenge for those of us who are battling Alzheimer’s.  If you find yourself getting lost frequently, or struggle to remember how you got to where you are, it could be the tricks Alzheimer’s plays on our ability to remember locations.  We might also become confused by things that are not happening right now, as our ability to differentiate the past from the present is hindered.

Trouble Understanding Visuals

Our vision will naturally start to decline as we get older, but did you know that vision changes can also be a symptom of Alzheimer’s? While the disease does not change our ability to see clearly, it will impact our ability to understand what we are seeing.  You might have a difficult time determining the distance of objects in front of you.  Objects could start to blend together despite being completely different colors.

Difficulty with Familiar Tasks

Alzheimer’s can disrupt our ability to complete the same tasks that we have been performing for our entire lives.  These tasks often include multiple steps and, regardless of how simple each might be, can become challenging for those with Alzheimer’s to complete together.  You might struggle to play your favorite card game, or pay the bills.  We might start these activities, but frequently find ourselves abandoning the task unfinished.

Inability to Solve Problems

Math can momentarily stump even the best of us, but for those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s, math and other forms of problem solving become increasingly complex.  We solve problems daily, some so insignificant that we barely realize it.  Shifting items in our hand to open a door is a simple form of problem solving, but quite complex with Alzheimer’s.  The disease might impact our ability to follow cooking instructions or manage time to keep our daily schedule.

It takes courage to admit that our memory problems might be the start of something more.  We allow pride to get in the way of taking action and speaking with our doctor immediately.  However, if we are forced to face the reality of Alzheimer’s, taking action early can be the key to staying active and independent longer into life. 

Ignoring the warning signs could be robbing us of quality time with friends and family, impacting those we love the most.  If you are concerned, don’t wait. Speak with your doctor today.

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