“One of the hardest things you will ever have to do, my dear, is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive.”
Alzheimer’s is a disease that currently impacts over 5.8 million Americans. In 2017 there were an estimated 50+ million people worldwide living with dementia. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and yet, it is still so unknown to many people. What exactly is Alzheimer’s? What are the signs of Alzheimer’s? Only a medical doctor is qualified to diagnose and recommend treatment for Alzheimer’s but Happy at Home is here to provide some information about the disease and common signs of the disease.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes one’s memories to gradually dwindle away. Alzheimer’s disease is caused specifically by nerve damage. Alzheimer’s is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility, affecting memory.
What makes Alzheimer’s so heart-wrenching is that it’s a slow deterioration of brain tissue. It doesn’t happen all at once, it usually happens over time. It impacts everyone differently, As memories are lost, the Alzheimer’s patient may forget how to perform simple daily tasks or recognize family members. The best way to anticipate and respond to ever-changing symptoms is to consult physicians, specialists, and to do your research.
Alzheimer’s is not currently curable, although there are options to help improve your loved one’s quality of life. It typically shows up as late-onset Alzheimer’s when seniors are in their 60s. Although rare, early onset Alzheimers can occur as early as in one’s 30s.
Did you know?
It’s truly incredible to know how many people are impacted by Alzheimer’s. Did you know?
Here are some statistics according to Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, an annual report released by the Alzheimer’s Association.
- 5.8 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease
- By 2050 this number is projected to rise to 14 million
- Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
- It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer COMBINED
- By 2019 Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $290 billion, In 2050 these could rise as high as $1.1 Trillion
- Early diagnosis could help but only 16% of seniors say they receive regular cognitive assessments
For worldwide statistics on Alzheimer’s, please visit Alzheimers Disease International.
The impact that Alzheimer’s has on our community, on our loved ones and on those over 60 years of age is alarming. 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. It’s the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., let that sink in for a second.
Alzheimer’s is something that impacts all family members and it’s something that we should do our best to plan for and to be aware of. With aging parents, it can be difficult to distinguish whether memory loss is the natural result of aging or symptoms of the disease. Only a doctor’s assessment and diagnosis can tell for sure but here are seven signs that may encourage you to seek the opinion of a doctor.
7 Signs your loved one may have Alzheimer’s
1. Memory loss
Memory loss is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s. Not just any memory loss but rather memory loss that is out of the ordinary.
Being forgetful of little things is one thing, that’s a normal sign of aging, forgetting big things like anniversary or wedding dates may be a warning sign. If your aging loved one repeatedly asks the same questions, doesn’t remember your name, important dates, or commonly known current events, such as political figures, it could be a sign of dementia and time to see a doctor.
Don’t stress if your aging senior forgets their doctor appointment, do stress if they forget every single one and need to rely heavily on reminders.
2. Feeling confused
Time goes by so fast, it’s easy to mix things up every once in a while but have you noticed the way that your loved one gets confused about everything these days? That’s a little more than just aging.
A little confusion is one thing, there are times in life, especially when retired when it’s easy to get confused about what day of the week it is. After all, every day is the weekend! However, losing track of time on a regular basis, forgetting where you are, feeling disoriented, these could be an indicator that your loved one is displaying signs of Alzheimer’s.
3. Physical changes
We know that physical changes come as we get older, but we’re not talking about your metabolism here, we’re talking about visual (and speaking) impairment such as your aging seniors ability to judge distance, color, or maybe even having a difficult time reading when they’ve been an avid reader all their lives.
Poor coordination, taking shorter steps, insomnia, poor hygiene habits may all be physical changes and indications that your loved one may have Alzheimer’s.
4. Communication issues
It’s not just visual impairment and physical changes that we have to worry about; it’s how our aging loved one communicates that we should be paying attention to as well.
Has your loved one started to stutter more frequently? Do they have a hard time saying what they mean to say? What about writing down what they have to say? Communication issues such as these are things that may signal your loved one has Alzheimer’s:
- Speaking impairment
- Writing impairment
- Language problems
- Trouble communicating
If your elderly loved one has always had a hard time communicating, they’re probably safe but if these are new things or they demonstrate significant changes in these areas; be alert, stay attentive, and take action when necessary. It’s important to see a doctor to address serious concerns.
5. Changes in mood
It may feel like a personality disorder but changes in mood and personality can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s, not just a symptom of a grumpy old man. Getting exceedingly frustrated or aggravated over the smallest of things is something to keep your eye on. If they’ve always been a grumpy old man with mood swings, it’s just another day.
It’s easy for us to chalk up mood swings or personality changes to old age. Who wouldn’t get a little frustrated with age? Pay attention to abnormal signs of fear, uncertainty, suspicion, and anxiety.
Interrupting a regular routine of your loved one and them getting agitated is not a sign to be worried, it’s perfectly normal! The older we get the more set we are in our ways. This is just related to getting old, not related to Alzheimer’s.
6. Difficulty with day-to-day life activities
Observing or participating in day-to-day life activities are a great way to check-in with an aging seniors state of mind. Seeing a loved one struggle to do the things they have done every day for 60+ years like eating, getting dressed, grooming, remembering their medications, losing or misplacing things that you never lose are some signs to keep alert for and an indicator that it’s time to consult a doctor.
7. Making bad life choices
As a result of other symptoms, elderly loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s may be more likely to get scammed or taken advantage of because they’re paying less attention, being forgetful, or having trouble communicating.
Being involved in the lives of our aging seniors in order to protect them from costly poor decisions or scammers is important. These mistakes could be signs of dementia and a concern
Remember, when it comes to Alzheimer’s…. :
- Research has shown a genetic link to the disease. If your parent has had Alzheimer’s, you are at a greater risk for it as well. If Alzheimer’s runs in your family, be preventative with your care and make sure to be aware of any emerging signs.
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol may impact getting Alzheimer’s! Just one of many great reminders to eat healthily and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
As life span has continued to lengthen, Alzheimer’s disease ― the most severe form of dementia ― has reached epidemic proportions. It is something that impacts all of us in one way or another. The following are wonderful resources if you or a loved one in your life is showing signs of Alzheimer’s:
Happy at Home is an in-home care company providing exceptional in-home care services including help with grocery shopping, errands, bathing & dressing, transferring, pet care, light housekeeping, and more. Our personalized care offers peace of mind and gives your loved ones the one-on-one care they deserve.
We understand what it’s like to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, we are here to help you and your family in whatever way we can as you and your aging loved one(s) go through a new phase in life. Happy at Home is located in Chico, Sacramento and opening up soon in Southern Oregon. Please contact us today to let us know how we can be of service to you or your loved one.