According to 2018 data from the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 16 million Americans care for a family member who has Alzheimer’s. This disease is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the US, with a 123 percent increase from 2000 to 2015. Since early detection can dramatically impact the disease’s prognosis, caregivers who are concerned about their loved ones’ risk of developing dementia should be aware of these five early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the first stage of Alzheimer’s disease, affected individuals may experience issues with short-term memory that are severe enough to impact daily life. This can include difficulty keeping track of names and phone numbers, as well as forgetting that major or minor events occurred. The person may rely extensively on written or digital notes to support this new memory deficit.
Apathy and Withdrawal
Those who are struggling to function may begin to avoid events and activities they previously enjoyed, or they may avoid friends and family. In many cases, this is born from a desire to stick to a familiar routine, but it can also stem from indifference to one’s surroundings, social withdrawal, and loss of interest. According to research published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, study participants aged 54 to 85 who exhibited a combination of mild cognitive impairment and apathy had a greater chance of developing of Alzheimer’s disease later.
Difficulty With Tasks
Activities of daily living can become quite challenging, even in the earliest stages of dementia. This is particularly true of projects that require planning and problem solving, even for tasks that are very familiar. This may include meal planning and cooking or balancing a checkbook. Caregivers who notice a family member struggling in these areas may want to seek medical advice.
Changes in Appearance and Hygiene
For many seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, their social apathy also extends to their personal appearance. This can manifest as wearing the same clothes every day, showering less often, and/or discontinuing routines like going to regular hair appointments. These changes can also indicate depression, which is more common among adults with dementia.
The development of anxiety could indicate the concurrent manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, older adults who are feeling anxious tend to ask the same questions and confirm plans multiple times. This anxiety often occurs when a person becomes aware of his or her memory loss and forgetfulness.
At the Life Enrichment Center, we have the resources to serve aging adults who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. We provide adult day care services, which includes support groups , specialty therapy, and other stimulating and fulfilling activities. Families who are concerned about whether their loved one can continue to live independently can contact us online or give us a call at 704-484-0405 to schedule a free trial visit to our beautiful facility.