If you’ve been to the cinema recently or you watched the Academy Awards, you might have heard about Still Alice. In this much-lauded film, Julianne Moore (who won an Oscar for her role) plays a professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film is heartbreaking, but it only portrays one woman’s story. Did you know that over 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease? Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease, and it is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States as well. Sadly, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia (source). Early detection is crucial if you want to get the maximum benefits from treatments and have time to plan for the future. So if you notice any of the following warning signs of Alzheimer’s, consult your doctor right away.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
Memory loss that affects daily activities. Everyone forgets things from time to time, but if your forgetfulness is disrupting your daily life, the memory loss could be a warning sign. Do you forget the same information over and over again? Have you forgotten important dates and events? Do you rely entirely on reminder notes, calendars, and your cell phone? If you forget information that used to be second-nature, you may want to consult a doctor.
Changes in mood or personality. Alzheimer’s can make a man not seem like himself, or a woman not seem like herself. In situations where they used to be calm and easygoing, they might be irritable, confused, angry, depressed, fearful, or even suspicious. Also, people with Alzheimer’s often become upset when their ingrained routines are disrupted.
Avoidance of social activities. If memory loss is causing significant disruptions in a person’s life, they may struggle to keep up with the people around them. Because of this, they might start avoiding social events. They might also have difficulty engaging in a hobby that they once found relaxing and fun.
Poor decision making and trouble solving problems. Normally tricky tasks can be extremely difficult for people living with Alzheimer’s. Working with numbers, concentrating on lengthy tasks, and keeping track of bills and and numbers may feel impossible. Some people also pay less attention to their personal hygiene and grooming.
Losing things (and struggling to find them again). Losing your keys or misplacing your phone isn’t a big deal, but if you’re frequently losing things in unusual places, you may need to be concerned. This is especially telling if you aren’t able to retrace your steps and find the lost items.
Difficulty with times, dates, and places. People living with Alzheimer’s sometimes struggle to remember times and places. They might not know what season or month it is, and they may forget where they are and how they arrived there.
Linguistic problems. Joining a conversation, remembering words, and continuing a train of thought may be difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s. It isn’t unusual for someone to stop speaking in the middle of a sentence (unsure of how to continue) or to replace basic vocabulary with new words (ex: saying “big jacket” instead of “coat,” or “white rain” instead of “snow”).
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Many people have mild versions of these warning signs of Alzheimer’s, but a doctor should be consulted if the symptoms are severe, if they’re disrupting your daily life, or if you suffer from more than one of them. And if you or a loved one is in the early to mid-stages of this disease, you may want to move into an assisted living facility. Surrounded by caring employees and helpful resources, residents are protected and provided with the support they need. This includes daily meals, transportation to medical appointments, and social activities and events.
If you’re looking for a senior living facility in the Midwest, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place. Our eight senior living facilities are located in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. If you would like to take a tour of one of our facilities, please click here.