Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. The National Institute on Aging characterizes the illness as an “irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.” Most people think that the disease only affects seniors, but an early-onset of Alzheimer’s can show up in middle-age, too. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress from mild to profoundly severe, eventually inhibiting almost all memory, communication and functionality.
Here are six symptoms that could indicate an Alzheimer’s diagnosis:
- Short-term memory loss: It is normal for an aging person’s memory to get spotty at times. However, when someone immediately forgets what just happened, it can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Repeating what they just said can be a result of such memory loss.
- Disorientation: The early stages of Alzheimer’s can cause someone to suddenly get lost in a familiar setting. It can also result in putting things in illogical places, like car keys in the freezer.
- Confusion: Early Alzheimer’s can make simple everyday tasks more difficult. Paying bills or making a grocery list can take more time.
- Communication problems: Struggling to find the right word for common items can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. For example, instead of saying “pencil” one might say, “that thing I write with.”
- Personality changes: Rapid mood swings, depression, anxiety, withdrawal, irritability, aggressiveness and mistrust can all be symptoms of early Alzheimer’s.
- Loss of interest: Distress over early symptoms can contribute to social withdrawal or disinterest for once-loved activities.
Do you or someone you love have Alzheimer’s? Consider joining one of Brain Matters’ clinical research studies on Alzheimer’s disease.