More than five million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that it accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. The likelihood that someone you know and love will develop Alzheimer’s disease at some point is unfortunately, fairly high.
Most of us know the most common, and tragic, symptoms of Alzheimer’s; the inability to recognize loved ones, impaired memory, losing things and getting lost. However, there are other symptoms of Alzheimer’s that you may not be aware of. Knowing about them can help you to understand behaviors that you may observe in a loved one should they develop this type of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease changes the brain
According to the Alzheimer’s association, the disease may begin to change the brain as many as 20 years before any symptoms emerge. In the very early stages of Alzheimer’s the brain can compensate for these changes, allowing individuals to continue to pursue normal daily life. However, as the disease progresses and changes the neurons in the brain, individuals begin to exhibit decline in their cognitive abilities. In later stages, the disease deteriorates the brain to the point where the individual exhibits memory loss, confusion, organizational and language impairments.
Behavioral changes are common in those with Alzheimer’s disease and they may be confusing to friends and family members. The disease can change the person’s personality; quiet people may become outspoken and aggressive and happy people may become withdrawn and depressed.
There are other, less well known symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. When family members are aware of these it may help to determine if a loved one is suffering from dementia. They include the following:
People with Alzheimer’s disease may become apathetic in general. They will lose interest in activities and hobbies they previously enjoyed. They will be unable to exhibit happiness or joy. They will lose interest in many of the small activities of daily life and may begin to slip into a depression. It becomes increasingly difficult to engage them in things they used to like to do.
Trouble processing numbers
As Alzheimer’s progresses, some individuals will have trouble working with numbers. This has broad implications. For example, it may make it difficult for them to operate the remote control for the television, read a recipe, pay monthly bills or count change. It may make it difficult for them to read a calendar or process other organizational systems.
You may notice that your loved one starts to withdraw and does not want to participate in the social activities that he or she once loved. The person may hesitate to join family gatherings, go to lunch with friends, or attend social events. Individuals who were previously very social may become withdrawn and begin to isolate themselves. In some cases this occurs as the person realizes it is becoming more difficult to keep up with conversations and information is more difficult to process.
If you notice that your loved one is exhibiting these signs consistently, consult his or her physician. Request a referral to a neurologist who can conduct tests to eliminate other causes for the behaviors. In the meantime, support your loved one with gentle reminders and help them to cope with the frustration that Alzheimer’s disease can cause.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.