In Australia there are over 413,000 people living with dementia and it is the number two cause of death for Australians.
By the year 2025, more than 536,000 cases are expected, proving that dementia is ever-increasing.
Doctors use the term dementia to cover a group of illnesses that are similar.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of them. In diseases like Alzheimer’s, a person’s mental ability declines progressively.
At the onset, signals of the disease are not always obvious.
Most often, people say they are just symptoms of age or anxiety.
There are several signs of Alzheimer’s that can occur very early in the disease’s progression. It is important for people to know the signs so they, themselves, or loved ones can get health care right away.
It is very common for people to forget things in their day-to-day activities which is not necessarily a sign of dementia.
But, when memory loss begins to interfere with normal daily life it may well be a sign of Alzheimer’s (or another form of dementia) or other medical concerns.
For people diagnosed with dementia they often report their short-term memory affected to a higher degree than long-term memory.
Things like forgetting names, searching for words, misplacing objects, not knowing where things go or forgetting appointments are all unsettling accounts of memory loss that people need to take seriously.
Also, repeating sentences is something people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease commonly do. They forget that they have mentioned something and repeat it again and again.
Completing tasks with difficulty
In the early stages of the disease, people often have trouble following directions.
It becomes increasingly difficult for some to create or follow a plan or to make simple calculations.
This means that following a recipe or creating a household budget and paying bills can become an impossible and frustrating task.
Often, people notice that they can’t remember how to drive to a familiar place or how to play a game they’ve enjoyed in the past.
Changes in vision
Another early signal of Alzheimer’s is a change in vision.
Specifically, when someone begins to have difficulty determining distances or differentiating colours or contrasts.
Another sign of the disease is that people can’t recognise or understand images. In cases where vision changes drastically, driving is a problem.
Errors in judgement
It is not uncommon for people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to make judgement errors.
They could do things such as stealing or breaking the law in some other way.
Another example is making mistakes in judging finances, resulting in spending too much money.
Sometimes there are errors in judgement when it comes to not caring for personal hygiene.
Even at the earliest stages, a person with Alzheimer’s may feel that bathing or brushing teeth is unnecessary.
Alteration of mood
Moodiness or personality changes are early signs of dementia, too.
A person who was once cheerful and happy, may become combative when confused.
They also may have a higher tendency to be fearful or suspicious as a result of the confusion. Also, a person showing early signs of Alzheimer’s is often depressed.
Difficulty with speaking and conversing
Most people with Alzheimer’s, and even those in the beginning stages of the disease, have trouble finding words (or the correct words) to express a thought.
They have trouble following a conversation and lose concentration before the other speaker has finished speaking. Also, they have difficulty remembering and repeating what the other person has said.
Memory loss and confusion in the early stages of dementia are not as severe as they are in the later stages but they are common signals of the disease.
It is common for people with Alzheimer’s to set off somewhere only to find that they’ve forgotten where they are or how they got there.
Loosing track of time, not remembering dates or even seasons of the year are all common signs.
Disorientation and confusion are very frustrating symptoms for people who are showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are common diseases all over the world.
As yet, there is no cure, but doctors and scientists are making progress every day.
With the knowledge they have gained, people are more aware of what measures they can take early on so they can get better health care for themselves or their loved ones.