A few years ago, our family started noticing my beloved grandmother no longer acting like herself. It was difficult watching someone we adored becoming less familiar with us and to us. To be honest, we initially attributed it to her simply getting forgetful with old age. Later, we realized it was Alzheimers disease stealing our grandma away. Here are the signs you should watch for to indicate if a loved one may be dealing with Alzheimers.
Disruptive Memory Loss
A certain level of memory loss happens to most people as we age, but Alzheimers takes it to the next level. People with the disease tend to forget more frequently. They have a hard time retaining recently acquired knowledge and will often ask the same question over and over, unable to recall the information. They are also likely to forget dates, events and even names they once knew well.
We all lose our car keys on occasion, but most times we are able to retrace our steps. For people with Alzheimers, this is extremely difficult. Often when they misplace items they have no cognitive trail to follow back. They simply dont remember the sequence of events between the last time they had something and where they are now. Loved ones will likely find items in seemingly peculiar locations.
Difficulty Completing Common Tasks
Alzheimers often strips people of the ability to complete tasks that used to be second nature. Sufferers may have difficulty operating a vacuum cleaner, cooking a meal or playing a card game. Individually, any of these things might be passed off as mere forgetfulness, but they all point to losing access to key parts of the brain.
Getting lost is a terrible feeling and, for those with Alzheimers, a far too common one. Sufferers often simply look around one moment and dont recognize their surroundings. Worse, they may not remember where they were trying to go. In certain situations, this can place them at risk for physical harm. It may be wise to equip them with a medical ID bracelet so others can help them find their way home.
For a person with Alzheimers, time can lose all meaning. Not only may they not know the day or date, they may not know the year or even decade. In many instances, Alzheimers sufferers thoughts will phase in and out between the current time and memories from long ago. They may believe they are in their early 20s when in fact theyre in their late 70s.
Alzheimers can reduce a persons ability to communicate well by blocking the neural pathways that allow us to translate thoughts into words. They may pause mid-sentence, unable to come up with the word that should come next. Even simple words may elude them. They may also suffer from word confusion, referring to common items using incorrect terms.
People suffering with Alzheimers may begin exhibiting unusual behaviors, either consistently or sporadically. These can include things such as not bathing regularly, sitting alone for long periods in strange places or wearing multiple layers of clothing even when its hot. These are just a few examples, but any sort of new, peculiar behavior may be a warning sign.
Impaired judgment is a dangerous sign of Alzheimers and must be reacted to quickly for your loved ones safety and general well-being. Impaired judgment can manifest in many forms: giving large sums of money to strangers, walking out into a heavily trafficked street, giving private information to scammers, just to name a few. This may be a sign its time for continual in-person care for your loved one.
Withdrawing From Family, Friends And Activities
Alzheimers can be very frustrating to those living with it. In moments of clarity they may realize just how often their impairments impact themselves and those around them. Similarly, they become frustrated at their own inability to efficiently participate in activities they love. This can lead to depression, causing them to withdraw and self-isolate.
Changes In Personality
This was the hardest part to deal with when it came to my grandmothers Alzheimers. The loving, warm, considerate person we knew became judgmental, irritable and suspicious. We had to remind ourselves daily that it was just the disease speaking, and that under it all was the brave, strong woman we loved.
It takes patience and understanding to care for a loved one with Alzheimers, but odds are that person used those very same traits to care for you at some point in your life. If you suspect a loved one has Alzheimers, seek a diagnosis from a medical professional.
Kevin Coutino is a freelance writer for Hope Paige Medical ID Marketplace, one of the foremost designers of contemporary medical emergency bracelets, awareness jewelry, and licensed designs.