older woman looking sadBased on figures from the Alzheimer’s Association, this progressive brain disorder affects more than five million people in America. Generally, the disease impacts those over 65 years old, but signs can emerge early.

Adults over 85 have a 50 percent risk, yet roughly five percent of patients experience early on-set symptoms as early as age 40.

About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and greatly diminishes brain function. As the disease slowly progresses, individuals can experience decreased memory, reasoning and cognitive abilities.

Diagnosis is not always straightforward. Once the signs appear, it could take years for the condition to be officially identified by a doctor. By then, the second stage of Alzheimer’s – moderate cognitive impairment – may have set in.

The person’s condition gradually declines from here, resulting in extensive periods of memory loss and trouble with hygiene, feeding and other forms of self-care.

Memory Loss

While memory lapses become more common with age, Alzheimer’s is not a natural part of growing older. A person with the disease may forget important dates and events, require several reminders or repeat the same questions. As the disease progresses, some information may never be recalled.

Day-to-Day Challenges

Alzheimer’s also interferes with one’s ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – walking, feeding, dressing, etc. Individuals may also have trouble following directions, managing finances and may take longer to complete seemingly basic tasks.

Losing Track of Time

Although forgetfulness is another natural part of aging, someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may have trouble determining how much time has passed, recalling information and remembering where or who other people are.

Vision Loss

Poor vision is to be expected among older individuals. Adults living with Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty reading, seeing colors and contrasts and determining distance, especially while driving.

Conversational Difficulties and Social Withdrawal

Your loved one might forget how to join in a conversation, the names of basic household items, stop right in the middle of a conversation or have difficulties finishing sentences. The same conversations may also be repeated.

An individual may stop attending work, social and family events or no longer participate in favorite hobbies. Interactions may further indicate personality and mood changes: An individual may seem confused, anxious, depressed, irritated or fearful when a minor deviation occurs.

Poor Judgement or Decision Making

These symptoms often involve financial decisions but are applicable to other aspects of everyday life. He or she may fall victim to financial scams, forget basic home and car maintenance or neglect hygiene.

An adult living with early-stage Alzheimer’s may misplace items and be unable to retrace their steps to find them. When these essentials go missing, friends and family may be accused of stealing.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is a challenge and families often cannot handle the responsibility alone. West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center has a dedicated dementia neighborhood with a staff of Qualified Dementia Care Providers. To learn more about our services, give us a call today.