Being forgetful, experiencing difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, and facing troubles with problem-solving are typical age-related occurrences that an individual mostly has to witness in old age. It is a normal part of aging and is often nothing to worry about.
However, if these symptoms seem to persist in a way that they seriously and severely affect your daily life, then they could very well be termed as early signs of Alzheimer’s. And it goes without saying that it is extremely important to identify the early and most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s and understand how to deal with them. You can even use an online Alzheimer’s test to figure out if you are at risk for this disease.
Mentioned ahead are a few such symptoms and ways to counter them effectively;
One of the first and most commonly faced symptoms of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. Both the working memory and long-term declarative memory are severely affected during this disease. It involves forgetting important dates and events, names of people and family members, asking for particular information to be repeated over and over again, and increasing reliance on memory aids like reminder notes, devices, etc. This type of memory loss especially affects recently learned and acquired information. In some cases, however, patients forget important information but later end up remembering it easily.
In case of memory loss, one should always keep a notebook or an electronic device like a smartphone with them to keep track of important data like events, dates, appointments, names, addresses etc. Putting up sticky notes around the house with reminders is another way to keep up with things. Moreover, you could also get your family members or caretakers to remind you of essential things that need to be done during the day like taking medication on time, going to appointments, etc.
Difficulty in solving problems or planning
As the disease progresses, an Alzheimer’s patient will start facing difficulty and have trouble concentrating on either single or multiple things. Their problem-solving skills are also greatly impaired during the early onset of the disease. They may struggle with simple things such as developing and following a plan, keeping track of monthly bills or cooking according to a set recipe.
To deal with these difficulties, a patient should try to focus on one problem at a time and give himself enough time to solve it. If you get stuck midway or if it gets too difficult to resolve the problem, give yourself a break instead of pressurizing yourself into succeeding at it. First, you must figure out what needs to be done, when and how; go step by step to complete it properly.
Behavior and personality changes
Among the numerous ways that Alzheimer’s affects your body, one is that it causes the brain cells to die which makes the brain lose its efficiency over time. This changes how a person acts and behaves. Common changes in behavior and personality include getting angry and frustrated more often than usual, being depressed and uninterested all the time, walking purposelessly and wandering away from home, hiding things, hitting people, etc. Additionally, people with Alzheimer’s may also stop caring about themselves where they might even stop bathing and become least bothered about how they look.
As a caregiver, you should try to reassure the patient that they are safe and give them space and privacy. Try not to show your frustration and anger in front of them and absolutely avoid arguing or reasoning with them. Focus on their feelings and emotions rather than their words and what they say. Also, keep them engaged with interesting activities so that they don’t get distracted by unwanted emotions and feelings.
Failure or difficulty in completing everyday tasks
Another commonly occurring symptom of Alzheimer’s is when a patient finds it difficult to accomplish daily tasks and activities. Things that seemed to be easy and doable once like managing finances or bills, or maintaining schedules start to become difficult and challenging with each passing day.
Furthermore, common tasks like playing a favorite game or remembering how to get to a particular location may even get increasingly hard with Alzheimer’s. Even if a patient manages to finish a game or reach their destination, they might take longer than they normally would.
This symptom requires that caregivers come up with a coping strategy that can simplify the situation and make it easier for both the patient and caregiver to deal with it. It involves making a list of tasks and activities that the patient finds challenging.
Also, an Alzheimer patient shouldn’t overstress herself to do too many tasks at the same time. Organize tasks in order of priority and let them tackle one at a time.
Confusion with place and time
People with Alzheimer’s can easily lose track of time, dates, seasons and days. Thus, they tend to get lost easily, forget where they live, fail to recognize familiar places or remember how they ended up at a particular place. They may also experience impairments in perceptions of time where 5 minutes can seem like 5 years and they might not remember seeing someone they saw or met a few hours ago.
As a caregiver or a loved one, a good way to cope with this symptom is to politely respond to the questions asked by an Alzheimer’s patient regarding time and place. Also, have photos and other visual reminders ready in case they forget places, or familiar locations. Give them constant reassurance every time they are worried about things like time and place and try to distract them from things that trouble them.
In case if a person is experiencing initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it is imperative to set an appointment with the doctor for early diagnosis. It is best to start the diagnosis by taking a brain test and then sharing the results with your physician.
While the symptoms mentioned above are just a few common ones among several others, one should exercise caution and be alert as soon as they notice the occurrence of the symptoms in others or in themselves.