Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that affects a person’s ability to remember things. It often begins slowly and can seem like normal aging, but eventually, it begins to impact one’s ability to remember simple information and complete simple tasks. This condition is progressive, meaning symptoms continue to worsen over time.
Until recently there have been no options for people who developed Alzheimer’s disease. Now, a new FDA-approved medication could help to slow the progress of the disease and the damage it does to the mind. Because there is still a lot to learn about Alzheimer’s, this medication has limited abilities. It needs to be started in the early stages of the disease to be effective.
But how do you tell normal aging from the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease? There are a few ways. First, it’s important to know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and how to tell the difference between those symptoms and normal aging. Another way is to make sure your loved one sees their healthcare provider regularly, and that they get their yearly physical.
At EPIC, we make testing memory and brain function a part of senior care. Using a simple test called a Cognivue, we can measure brain activity. This not only allows us to pinpoint weaker areas of the mind, but we can identify changes in the earliest stages when there are options for treatment that will protect your loved one’s memories and independence as long as possible.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
Normal Aging: Sometimes forgetting names/appointments but remembering them later.
Warning Sign: Frequent forgetfulness, asking for the same information over and over, and increasing reliance on memory aids.
Challenges with Planning or Problem Solving
Normal Aging: Occasional errors with bills or finances.
Warning Sign: Trouble following familiar recipes, keeping track of bills, or struggling to concentrate.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Normal Aging: Needing some help with microwave settings or recording a TV show.
Warning Sign: Trouble completing daily tasks, remembering a familiar route, or organizing a grocery list.
Confusion with Time or Place
Normal Aging: Sometimes getting confused about the date or time but remembering later.
Warning Sign: Forgetting where they are, how they got there or losing track of dates.
Trouble Understanding Images or Spatial Relationships
Normal Aging: Age-related vision changes, or new need for glasses.
Warning Sign: Struggles with balance, reading, distance, or colors.
New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing
Normal Aging: Sometimes taking more time to find the right word.
Warning Sign: Trouble following conversations, frequently repeating themselves, or using the wrong words for common items.
Misplacing Things and Having Trouble Retracing Steps
Normal Aging: Sometimes misplacing items but retraces steps to find them.
Warning Sign: Putting things in odd places, losing things, unable to retrace steps, accusing people of stealing.
Decreased or Poor Judgement
Normal Aging: Occasional mistakes or poor choices, like forgetting an oil change.
Warning Sign: Poor judgment with money, neglecting bathing, or keeping their home clean.
Normal Aging: Sometimes feeling less interested in family plans or social events.
Warning Sign: Withdrawal from most social events, struggling to keep up with a favorite activity.
Changes in Mood or Personality
Normal Aging: Developing specific ways of doing things and being irritated when their routine is disrupted.
Warning Sign: Start to become confused, depressed, anxious, or fearful. May become easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
If you notice some or all of these symptoms in your loved one, it’s time to talk to a provider. Medication may be able to help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, and they can connect you with support resources to help ensure the best care possible.