10 Common Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
It is true, most of us would not want to know that we had Alzheimer’s since there is no cure. So many think, “what’s the hurry to know if you have the symptoms of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?”
Though there is no cure for Alzheimers, there are drugs to slow or postpone the progress and symptoms. This means a patient diagnosed earlier, could live longer with fewer symptoms if given medication at an early stage of his disease.
Plus, new research is ongoing and there may be even newer findings and cures in the near future. So it’s beneficial to know the earliest signs and symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer so that you can be diagnosed and treated for these symptoms while medication can make a difference. So far, later in the disease the same medications tend to offer little results in behavior or symptoms.
Not all patients have the exact same symptoms, but generally, each person will have many of the below behaviors to some degree.
1. Many people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s lose their ability to smell. In one study, they found that even those with the mildest cognitive impairment could not identify certain smells; strawberry, smoke, soap, menthol, clove, pineapple, natural gas, lilac, lemon, and leather.
2. Misplacing things in odd places. Many of us do this on occasion, but in the early stage of Alzheimer’s it will become a common practice to store things in odd places. Toilet paper behind the sofa. A wallet in the refrigerator, or a shoe in the freezer.
3. Repeating the same phrase or story over and over without realizing they’ve already told the same thing many many times.
4. Change in Personality. The extrovert may become more recluse, quiet and preferring to be alone. The introvert may become more boisterous and loud, often offending without realization. As early stages of Alzheimer’s progress, inhibitions are lost, causing behavior to change. They may become more offensive, embarrassing, sexual, antisocial. Sometimes, personality traits that they already have–become distorted; the suspicious person becomes paranoid, the thrifty person becomes a hoarder, etc.
Mom did not become a hoarder, but her youth was spent during the depression and her penchant to be thrifty escalated as she lost inhibitions. She would never throw away a plastic container when it was empty, but would wash and store it instead. At the grocery store it wasn’t unusual to spend an hour in the soda pop aisle. Mom would move back and forth in that aisle as though stalking prey. Making a choice was excruciating for her. She knew which Soda she wanted, but the fullness of the bottles kept her struggling for a choice. Mom had to have the fullest bottle.
We’re talking a 15 minute decision to pick up one bottle of pop. She measured the fullness level of each. And she wanted the fullest one on the shelf. A level which could be measured in millimeters on a row of 50 bottles.
5. They lose initiative. Most people are happy to do the things they enjoy; gardening, shopping, jogging, etc. When we do things that we enjoy, it’s invigorating. We make time to celebrate our favorite pastimes. The early Alzheimer’s patient may choose to sit in front of a television for hours instead, giving-up all hobbies and activities that they enjoyed in the past.
My Mom had a special, covered-porch built so her plants could survive the hot Desert sun. It was a lush green canopy of beauty. One of the first disturbing things that I noticed, several years before her diagnosis, was this little slice of paradise began to wilt away. A giant Grapefruit tree produced grapefruit as tiny as oranges. When I asked her about the watering conditions, she brushed off the question as though the garden was no longer important to her. I was surprised, but accepted her explanation. Looking back, I should have known better. My mom had a lifetime love affair with gardening.
6. Taking longer to do routine chores. And becoming overly upset if something unpredicted occurs. This reminds me of when Mom received the notice for Jury duty in the mail. She phoned me in full-blown hysteria, certain that they were coming to arrest her that day. That’s another Post, if you’d like to read it <–Here–>
7. They can forget to eat or eat all the time. Each sufferer seems to have a different issue with eating. My Mom would forget to eat. Before she was diagnosed, we spent many days in the hospital with Mom’s severe stomach cramps. Fortunately, one alert doctor finally noticed that Mom’s angry stomach quieted-down shortly after the IV was inserted on each visit.
8. Most people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s begin to neglect hygiene and need encouragement to change their clothes. They have begun to forget how long they’ve worn their clothes, and to identify which clothes are their own. They don’t know when they bathed last, and how to adjust the water to take a shower or bath.
9. Inability to concentrate. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s many people begin to lose their ability to concentrate on one thing at a time. This means they find it difficult to carry on a long conversation with full understanding. They may become confused when many people are talking at once. Trying to concentrate on a newspaper article or television newscast with both a shortened attention and memory span is near impossible. They simply aren’t able to put all the facts together and come to an accurate conclusion.
10. Easily confused about Day/Time and where they are. Even early stage Alzheimer’s patients can become confused about day and time and where they are. They can get lost even when they are in their own neighborhood. They often forget the day of the week or the month of the year.
If you have a loved one, family member or dear friend who shows several or more of these signs or symptoms, stay aware of their circumstances, encourage them to see a physician. Don’t forget that early diagnosis can postpone the symptoms and prolong life.