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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease: Know the Early Signs and Symptoms

Posted by The Pavilion Senior Living Team on Sep 15, 2021 8:00:00 AM | 6 minute read

The Pavilion Senior Living - What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Lately, you have been noticing that your parent or loved one is acting differently. Small behaviors such as choosing to wear shorts in the winter or forgetting to pay the electric bill have become more frequent. These behaviors seem odd, but you do not think anything of them. 

While many people immediately think of memory loss when Alzheimer’s disease is brought up, this is not the only symptom. There are many other signs of the disease, and it is important to be aware of them. If you know what to look for, you will be able to identify these behaviors in your parent or loved one and seek treatment before the disease progresses further. 

The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the more options you will have. With the proper diagnosis in the early stages of the disease, you can manage Alzheimer’s disease, allowing your loved one to continue living a happy, fulfilling life with many meaningful and joyful moments.

The Pavilion Senior Living offers supportive memory care services in Lebanon and Carthage, Tennessee. We are sharing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as more prominent symptoms of dementia.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

The Alzheimer’s Association defines Alzheimer’s disease as “a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior.”

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes several different conditions that affect a person’s cognitive functioning. Each type affects a person’s brain differently and results in a number of symptoms. Accounting for 60% to 80% of all dementia cases, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

Other types of dementia include:

  • Vascular Dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
  • Mixed Dementia

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, meaning that it will worsen over time. This is why the earlier it is caught and diagnosed, the more that can be done to manage its symptoms. In the early stages of the disease, symptoms are mild and may not affect an individual’s daily life. However, as the disease progresses into the late stages, symptoms may be severe enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to live independently and manage daily tasks.

Overlooked Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Experiencing More Frequent Falls

A study that followed 125 older adults over an eight-month period revealed a correlation between frequent falling and a person developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. 

Alzheimer’s disease can affect visual images and spatial relationships. This means that an individual living with Alzheimer’s disease could experience difficulty judging distance and trouble keeping their balance, leading to more frequent and accidental falls.

Staring

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia often alter the way a person is able to move their eyes. This symptom is called ‘reduced gaze’ and may result in a person staring. While the person exhibiting symptoms may not be aware that they are doing this, it is often clear to their loved ones around them.

Eating Non-Edible Items

As the disease progresses, you may notice your family member eating food or other items that are not safe for human consumption. An example of this could be that your loved one eats a flower in a vase on a restaurant table. While your loved one knows that they are supposed to eat at this location, they get confused about what they are supposed to eat and do not understand why the flower is on the table. 

Another example would be if a parent or family member eats food that is past its expiration date or has been left out for too long. Because it is common for people exhibiting dementia-like symptoms to become distracted, they may leave food out for hours, causing it to spoil. When they return to eat, the food is no longer safe, but they continue to eat it regardless.

Having Difficulty Understanding Familiar Objects

We have all opened a drawer in our kitchen and found a gadget or tool but can’t remember its purpose. However, people experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may forget the purpose of familiar objects. For example, they may no longer remember what a coffee maker does or forget the purpose of their car keys. 

Trouble Recognizing Social Cues

Being unable to recognize how others feel or how to act in social situations is a common sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Someone experiencing these symptoms may no longer be able to feel empathy or understand the embarrassment of others. On the other side, they also may no longer experience feelings of embarrassment themselves, leading to inappropriate or unusual behavior.

Additional Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Memory Loss that Affects Daily Life

We all forget things from time to time – like walking into a room and forgetting why you entered in the first place. This alone is not cause for concern, but it becomes a potential sign of Alzheimer’s disease when memory loss and forgetfulness affect a person’s daily life.

If an individual is repeating questions multiple times in the same conversation, relying more and more on memory aides, or forgetting important dates and events, this may signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Confusion with Time or Place

The Alzheimer’s Association states, “people living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately.”

Alzheimer’s disease usually attacks a person’s short-term memory first, leaving older memories intact. As a result, individuals living with this condition could get confused about what year they are living in and where they are. It is common for individuals to believe they are living in a year that has long ago passed and in a home that they no longer own. 

Trouble with Language

There are times when we forget a word we are trying to use during a conversation, but we usually remember it later. Individual’s living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia may have more difficulty speaking and writing.

Because people living with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble holding a train of thought, conversations can become difficult. They may stop in the middle of talking with the inability to go on, and they may also slowly lose their vocabulary or call things by the wrong name.

Inability to Plan or Solve Problems

For individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, it can be difficult to stay focused or complete a task. An example of this could be when following a recipe; an individual may lose their train of thought and be unable to complete it.

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

Humans are creatures of habit, meaning we all have our routines and tasks we do on a regular or even daily basis. If your loved one is suddenly unable to follow their regular routine or complete a familiar task, like paying bills, this may be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Read Our Blog: Transitioning a Loved One to Memory Care: Helpful Tips to Ease the Process

When is it Time to See a Doctor?

If any of the signs we mentioned have begun to affect your parent or loved one’s daily life, it may be time to schedule an appointment with their physician. The sooner you get an accurate diagnosis, the more options you will have. 

Memory Care Options in Tennessee

The Pavilion Senior Living proudly offers compassionate Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. We understand that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia affect each person differently. Because of this, our team members are specially trained on managing the challenges associated with memory loss, and we focus on providing person-centered care to each resident and family we serve.

Our memory care neighborhoods in Lebanon and Carthage, Tennessee, provide a safe and secure environment designed to meet each residents’ personal needs. All of our activities encourage engagement, connection, and social wellness.

Our memory care services include:

  • Specialized Programming
  • Secure Living Environment
  • Assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  • Caring and Supportive Team Members
  • Medication Management

Our mission at The Pavilion Senior Living is to create safe, comfortable environments that allow residents to maintain as much of their independence as possible while offering peace of mind to their families. We focus on each individual’s strengths and interests to enhance their quality of life and promote cognitive functioning.

At The Pavilion Senior Living, we understand that this can be an overwhelming journey, but our team is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us to learn more about our communities and services, and visit our website for additional resources to help you on your journey.

Updated: September 2021

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease