If you’ve been unfortunate enough to witness Alzheimer’s Disease up close and personal with someone you love, you know what a devastating condition it can be. Alzheimer’s doesn’t only affect the long-term and short-term memory of people who suffer from it, but their cognition, their functioning, and their sense of self. It’s a disease, like cancer, that no one should have to suffer through, and research teams like ours at the Lehigh Center for Clinical Research are working hard to understand it better.
Alzheimer’s is associated with later life and senior citizens. However, it is possible to start showing signs of Alzheimer’s in much earlier stages of life, especially in cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s, which affects people younger than 65. If you’re noticing that you or someone you love is showing these signs, it’s absolutely crucial that you schedule a screening appointment as soon as possible to reap the benefits of early detection and diagnosis. Here are the signs to look out for.
Memory Loss or Forgetfulness
The most obvious way that Alzheimer’s affects your brain is that it directly attacks your memory, beginning with short term memory. Having trouble remembering events, tasks to be done, recent conversations, or where certain items have been placed is often the first sign that something is wrong.
Trouble Problem-Solving or Planning
Alzheimer’s changes the way you think and process information, making it hard to function mentally as you once did. This can mean that it becomes difficult to make and execute a plan or to problem-solve, say, deciding what order in which to clean rooms of the house. Trouble with numbers, money, and financing can also be a sign that there is a problem.
Difficulty with Routine Tasks
When muscle memory and years of repetition can no longer carry you through a task that you do frequently, like driving home, bathing, or cooking a familiar dish, it can be a sign of the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
“Orientation” is often used in a medical sense to describe a person’s concept of where and when they are in the world. If you or someone you love is having trouble remembering the date, current happenings like the name of the president, or where they are, it’s a red flag that something is wrong with their cognition.
Mood or Personality Changes
Intense changes in the way a person behaves towards other people around them should never be ignored. Sudden personality changes are frequently a symptom of a mental or cognitive disorder. Strong mood swings that seem to have no explanation, like anxiety, fear, or anger that comes on quickly, are something that you should definitely note in other people, or in yourself if you can. Similarly, if someone is beginning to behave completely differently than they used to in more ways than just mood swings, it’s important to see a medical professional.
The Importance of Screening and Early Diagnosis
If you notice one or more of these early signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone close to you, seeing a doctor for screening as soon as possible is incredibly important. Alzheimer’s is most manageable and treatable if it is caught early enough. While the disease is not curable, there are medications available that can slow its progress, and the earlier these drugs are started, the better. Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis early on also gives patients time to grieve and gather with their families and loved ones, and plan what they want the coming years of their life to look like.
Additionally, the earlier an individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the more chances they have to pursue opportunities like clinical trials, where you can get access not only to affordable medical care, but to the newest drugs and treatments that are not yet available to the wider market. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may be interested in our trials here at the Lehigh Center for Clinical Research. You can continue reading about these opportunities on our website to learn more.