Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition, where the brain functions associated with memory, cognition, language and speech deteriorate progressively. The symptoms progress gradually over a long period of time. There is a disruption of neuronal connections. A state of irreversible damage completely deteriorates the ability of patients to function normally. There are certain early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease that help in early diagnosis.
1. Memory loss disrupting life: When people start forgetting small details or information that is just learnt, it should ring warning bells. They start losing track of names, events or important dates, relying heavily on memory aids like post it notes or smartphones. Unaware of this condition, the patient may ask for the same information over and over again.
2. Planning and problem solving become a hard nut to crack: Planning and sticking to those plans seem a daunting task. They find it difficult to follow details and plans, especially those with numbers involved. Patients find it harder to concentrate and take a long time to do tasks that they generally did faster. Following recipes or keeping themselves updated about checkbooks and bills become hard.
3. Trouble doing daily tasks: Doing familiar things becomes really hard. Even driving to nearby places or frequently visited places is no longer an easy task. Completing easy tasks at work becomes progressively difficult and the patients tend to forget daily chores.
4. Time and place confusion? Grasping the realities of the present situation gets difficult. Patients commonly tend to get disoriented with respect to time and place. They might end up somewhere, but not remember how or why the went there.
5. Changes in vision and spatial relationships: It gets harder to read books and papers. Color and contrast blur as the disease progresses and judging distances can become hard. Such patients are advised to avoid driving.
6. Conversation is frustrating: Vocabulary becomes harder to access and the patients may often find themselves at a loss for words. They often name things wrong despite knowing what they are. Conversation is hard to keep up for them. They often get stuck in the middle or repeat themselves.
7. Misplacing things is common: Affected individuals keep losing things from time to time. It is basically difficult for them to retrace their steps back to something or someplace. Such people end up putting their things at weird places and accuse others of stealing them.
8. Judgment lapses: Patients start making poor judgments like handing over large sums of money. They may forget to shower or take care of themselves. Dressing is difficult and they may dress for the wrong weather.
9. Social withdrawal: Patients often lose interest in daily activities or their favorite hobbies. They become progressively withdrawn from the society and demotivated. You’ll find them spending more time in front of the TV or sleeping.
10. Changes in mood and behavior: Alzheimer’s patients are easy to upset. They get depressed quickly and feel scared and anxious more easily. Suspicious nature develops and may precede delusions.
If you notice these signs in those around you, it is time to consult your neurologist. They will evaluate the mental faculties of the affected individuals. This includes checking memory, ability to solve problems and thinking and processing skills. Brain imaging investigations may be required to confirm the diagnosis. Though the signs are often subtle and need to be distinguished from normal aging. Earlier diagnosis followed by mental and physical exercise can help slow the disease progression.
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