What are the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
Early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include difficulty remembering recent events, problems solving problems or completing familiar tasks, difficulty with language, disorientation in time and place, poor or decreased judgment, problems with abstract thinking, misplacing things, changes in mood or behavior, and loss of initiative. These symptoms can also be caused by other conditions besides Alzheimer’s. A proper diagnosis can only be made by a qualified healthcare professional (typically a neurologist).
Read this story about how one couple discovered the presence of Alzheimer’s disease:
Julia, when did you first realize there was something "off" with Mike? How did you respond to this? Julia: Two things stand out. I found a paycheck in a cookbook. This was odd because Mike had always been so on-top of everything. Also, his driving abilities seemed to be declining. Honestly, I panicked at first and then I was definitely in denial. We ended up getting help through the Alzheimer's Association much later on; looking back, we should've reached out earlier, but I was scared and felt helpless and isolated.
Mike, what about you? When did you first start noticing things? What did you notice? Mike: Things just weren't right, but I couldn't figure out exactly what wasn't right. And, I don't think I could accept it. I kept asking for directions to go to work), and it once took 20 minutes to do a bank deposit which was unusual because I always had a keen mind.
What did you do when you noticed these behaviors? Can you take us through the time you began to notice problems, through getting the diagnosis? Julia: We didn't do anything at first. Eventually, we realized we needed to get help because Mike was struggling with day-to-day tasks. Initially, Mike was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). We later got the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
What did they notice? Misplacing things, difficulty in completing basic tasks, forgetting how to get to work, etc.
For another family the early signs were a bit different:
The first sign that something wasn't right with Mary was her rapid weight loss—she lost almost 150 pounds without appearing to try. Then Kamaria and others in her close-knit extended family began noticing small personality changes, such as forgetfulness and irritability. But it was a visit from Kamaria's grandmother that spurred her to act.
When her father's mother flew up from Florida, she, Kamaria, and Mary spent the day together. They had lunch at Kamaria's husband's restaurant and visited her father's grave. But when Kamaria mentioned it to Mary a few weeks later, she knew nothing about it and was angry that Kamaria even brought it up. That's when Kamaria realized there was a problem. She quickly started making doctor's appointments.
Mary lost so much weight because she forgot to eat. Unfortunately when they started working with doctors it took two years to figure out that it was Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. It affects countless families. Learning to recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease can help make a difference in someone’s life.