What Are the Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s?

Do you know the warning signs of Alzheimer’s? Statistics show roughly one in 10 seniors aged 65 and older will develop this chronic neurodegenerative disease. Named after German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, Alzheimer’s is one of the most common diseases from which seniors suffer. If you have a family member or friend who’s entering the golden years of their life, you should familiarize yourself with the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Everyone has trouble remembering things at some point or another, and seniors are no exception. When a senior consistently struggles to remember things, though, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.

It’s typically a senior’s short-term memory that’s most impacted by the disease. A senior might clearly remember an eventful day from several decades ago, whereas the same senior may struggle to remember a specific day from last week. Medical experts believe that older memories, as well as facts learned, are better protected against Alzheimer’s than shorter memories.

Difficulty Keeping Track of Time

Alzheimer’s can make it difficult for seniors to keep track of time. The disease essentially affects a senior’s perception of time. A senior with Alzheimer’s may think several hours have passed, for instance, when it’s really only been 10 or 20 minutes or vise versa.

Like many other signs of Alzheimer’s, it becomes more difficult for seniors to keep track of time as the disease progresses. This is particularly concerning for seniors who take medication. If a senior suffers from Alzheimer’s, he or she may take their medication at the wrong time, which could lead to an underdose or an overdose.

Confusion

Another warning sign of Alzheimer’s is confusion. Seniors suffering this disease may feel lost and confused in an otherwise normal environment. Typically, new environments are most likely to trigger confusion. If a senior is familiar with an environment, he or she is less likely to experience confusion. This is why it’s important to help seniors acclimate to new environments. Whether it’s a new restaurant or a new living community, you can help a senior avoid confusing by acclimating him or her to the new environment.

Speech and Writing Problems

During the onset of Alzheimer’s, seniors may struggle to find and structure the right words when talking or writing. According to one study, communication problems such as these are the result of nerve cell failure. Not all seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s will experience speech and writing problems. Nonetheless, this is still a warning sign of which you should be aware.

Loss of Appetite

It’s a little-known fact that Alzheimer’s can cause loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss. This generally doesn’t occur during the disease’s onset. Rather, loss of appetite typically occurs in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. If left unaddressed, a senior may fail to eat enough food — or the right foods — to sustain a healthy immune system, thereby leaving the senior vulnerable to infections.

While you can’t stop Alzheimer’s from causing loss of appetite, you can take steps to ensure a senior has a healthy diet. Make sure the senior has access to a combination of lean meats, vegetables and fruits. If the senior is unable to prepare his or her meals, you should do it for them. A healthy diet will go long ways in combating in combating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Shortened Attention Span

Alzheimer’s has been shown to cause a shortened attention span. If a senior suffers from this disease, he or she won’t be able to focus on any single task for an extended period. The senior will likely lose his or her focus.

How do you help a senior who has a shortened attention span due to Alzheimer’s? For starters, you can eliminate distractions in the senior’s environment. With fewer distractions, he or she will have an easier time maintaining focus.

Irritability

Irritability can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. The way in which the disease affects the neurological system often causes mood changes, with increased irritability being one of the most common types of mood changes.

Even during the onset of Alzheimer’s, many seniors will experience increased irritability. As a caregiver, though, you should always remember that irritability is the result of Alzheimer’s, so it isn’t the senior’s fault.

Irregular Sleeping

Seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, seniors suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s may spend nearly half of their time in bed awake. Additionally, many seniors sleep for long hours during the daytime as the disease progresses.

Keep in mind, these are just a few signs of Alzheimer’s. If you believe a family member or friend is suffering from Alzheimer’s, schedule a doctor’s appointment so that he or she can receive a professional medical diagnosis. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are a variety of treatment options available to help manage or slow down its progression.

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