Dementia Awareness Week 2017 is fast approaching, running from the 14th to 20th of May this year. As an experienced dementia care provider with specialised ‘Memory Lane’ communities, Barchester is committed to helping raise awareness of this debilitating illness. One of the most important ways to raise awareness is sharing what people should be looking out for as early warning signs of dementia. We have put together a list of five early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, a specific form of dementia. It’s also important to understand how these differ from normal age-related changes.
Early symptons of Alzheimer's disease to be aware of
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease tend to be divided into three main stages: early symptoms, middle-stage symptoms and later symptoms. It’s crucial to indentify the first symptoms as early as possible in order to get the maximum benefit from the treatments which are available. Doing so will help the person affected by dementia maintain a level of independence for a longer period of time and explore different treatment options which could offer relief for some symptoms.
1. Misplacing items or forgetting about recent conversations
Most people are aware that Alzheimer’s disease affects memory. Particularly, those living with Alzheimer’s can forget recent conversations and new information. However, it is also a common early warning sign when a person misplaces items and forgets important dates or events. It is a normal part of ageing that an older person sometimes forgets names or appointments; but, they are normally able to remember them at a later date.
2. Finding it difficult to find the right word for places and objects
Another sign is that a person living with Alzheimer’s in its early stages may begin to have problems following or participating in a conversation. They may call items they have known all their lives by the wrong name. For example, referring to a watch as a ‘hand-clock’.
3. Becoming repetitive
Similarly, when they are conversing, those living with Alzheimer’s may stop during a conversation and struggle to continue, or repeat themselves. Frequently asking the same question a number of times can be a sign of memory loss.
4. Showing signs of poor judgement and indecision
People living with Alzheimer’s disease may begin to show signs of poor judgement. This is very different to making a poor decision once in a while, which is natural as we grow older. Those affected by the disease may struggle handling their money well or begin to pay less attention to grooming
5. Experincing changes in personality and mood
Finally, another early warning sign to look out for is changes in personality and mood. This may be one of the most obvious signs to spot from the perspective of relatives who know the individual well. It’s normal to enjoy routine and become irritable when it is altered. However, if an individual is often hesitant to try new things and has become more anxious, agitated or experiences periods of confusion, they could be suffering from the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
It’s crucial to organise a visit to a GP if these symptoms are identified. Sometimes memory problems can be associated with stress, medication, depression or other health problems. But it is important to speak openly about any concerns you may have about yourself or a friend or relative.