Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia and is named for the physician who discovered it, Alois Alzheimer. It currently affects 5 million Americans and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is a fatal disease that destroys brain cells, affects memory, behavior, and thinking, and gets progressively worse over time. Moreover, there is no cure.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are ten warning signs. These warning signs include:
- Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks. I sometimes go to get something and then forget what I was going to get. People with Alzheimer’s, however, show an inability to perform everyday tasks, such as how to fix a meal, operate the TV button, or play a game.
- Difficulty with Abstract Thinking. Alzheimer’s sufferers may be unable to perform complex tasks or forget how to use numbers.
- Difficulty with Communication. Everyone has trouble finding the right word, but someone with Alzheimer’s will forget simple words or substitute unusual words.
- Disorientation. If you sometimes forget whether its Thursday or Friday, it doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s sufferers, however, forget how they got somewhere, where they live, or how to return home.
- Loss of Initiative. Many of us may want to stay home and zone out, but a person with Alzheimer’s is very passive and may sit in front of the TV, sleep alot, or not want to do any activities.
- Misplace Items. Although me and my husband may misplace our car keys or wallets, a person with Alzheimer’s puts things in unusual places. For instance, they might put their keys in the fridge and their wallet in the bathroom vanity.
- Mood Changes. Everyone gets sad or moody, but when a person has Alzheimer’s their mood shifts rapidly, and they go from calm to angry for no apparent reason.
- Personality Changes. We all change over time, but Alzheimer’s sufferers change dramatically and may appear confused, fearful, or suspicious.
- Poor Judgment. Everyone demonstrates poor judgment on occasion, but people with Alzheimer’s are likely to dress inappropriately or give away money.
- Trouble Remembering Recently Learned Information. This is the most common warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Although these warning signs can help make a determination as to whether or not a loved one has problems, you need to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis, particularly if your loved one’s level of functioning deteriorates. It is important to get help and learn what you and person affected can expect in the future as the disease progresses.