As a family member or a close friend, it is important to look out for these early warning signs that may signal the onset of Alzheimer’s:
The difference between regular memory loss and a warning sign of Alzheimer’s is this: you will forget a name or appointment time, but remember it at a later stage, however those suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s will forget names, appointments dates, times and life events altogether – repeatedly asking for names of people and things they cannot remember.
Difficulty carrying out familiar tasks
At the onset of Alzheimer’s a person may find it increasingly difficult to complete everyday tasks such as preparing meals and losing track of the steps in a recipe. You might also notice that they are unable to place a telephone call they may have had during that day, or finish playing their favourite game.
Problems with writing and speaking
In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s a person will often forget simple, every day words, instead replacing them with nonsensical ones. This will make their speech and writing increasingly difficult to understand.
Confusion about time and place
People with early onset Alzheimer’s will start to become easily lost or disoriented in their own neighbourhoods, forget how they got to a certain place and even forget how to get back home.
Behaviours such as dressing inappropriately for the weather – wearing several layers on a hot day, lending large sums of money unnecessarily or spending money unwisely are signals for the onset of changes in behaviour and judgement.
At the early onset of this disease a person may display massive mood swings and sudden bouts of aggression for no obvious reason. They may also become extremely anxious, confused and suspicious of people, or start to become overly dependent on a family member.
Withdrawing from social activities
In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s a person may choose to withdraw from their favourite social past-times due to the changes they are experiencing. They may also become passive, withdrawn and sleep far more than usual, avoiding regular daily activities such as bathing and even eating.
Unfortunately, it is difficult for family members or close friend to recognise a clear-cut line between normal memory changes and actual warning signs of Alzheimer’s, that is why it is so vitally important to visit a doctor if a person’s level of day-to-day functioning seems to be changing and more erratic than usual.