According to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases of dementia. And while we all may experience some mental decline as we age, the previously held belief that senility and mental decline are inevitable is no longer widely accepted.
Detecting dementia may not always be easy, but there are signs and symptoms that one can look for in order to identify if early dementia is indeed occurring. Here are ten signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease that are good to keep in mind, especially with older family members, friends and colleagues.
1. Do memory changes disrupt daily life? Some forgotten information is always normal for most people, but if the person needs information repeated over and over again—and still forgets—this may be a sign.
2. Are planning or solving problems more and more difficult? Balancing the checkbook or following a simple recipe are two examples.
3. Have very familiar tasks become difficult to complete, like playing a favorite game or finding the way to a store that one has frequented for many years?
4. Has losing track of time, the seasons, or the day or date become more common?
5. Have spatial relationships and images become difficult? Is reading, judging distance, or judging color or contrast increasingly challenging?
6. Are there new problems with speaking, writing, understanding language or holding a conversation?
7. Is the person frequently misplacing things, losing things, or putting things in strange places? Are they unable to retrace their steps and find things that they have put down?
8. Is there evidence of increasingly poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money or making poor decisions that are very unlike this person’s usual way of being?
9. Is the individual withdrawing socially, avoiding social interaction, or otherwise not engaging with others?
10. Are there mood changes that seem more pronounced, like irritability, depression, anger, suspicion or paranoia?
While these are only some of the signs of early dementia or Alzheimer’s, they are considered hallmark symptoms that are relatively easy to track and identify in the home environment.
If a loved one is exhibiting these sorts of signs and symptoms, begin keeping a journal of the observed symptoms right away, and make an appointment with a medical provider for further evaluation and screening. There is no cure for dementia, but early detection is important, and some treatments can slow disease progression and enhance quality of life during the slow decline that is so common in dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.