With age, forgetfulness becomes part of life. We accept memory lapses and often don't think much of them unless they disrupt daily life or until our family and friends notice. It's a thin differentiating line that separates a harmless case of absentmindedness from a more grave condition. So, how do we identify red flags?
As we celebrate World Alzheimer's Day on 21st September, let us educate ourselves on some vital signs that may indicate the onset of Alzheimer's disease - a progressive brain disorder affecting memory, thinking, and behavior. Although there is no immediate or complete cure, recognizing these early signs will help us take appropriate steps to counter or delay the process.
Here are seven early signs of Alzheimer's disease to look out for:
1. A constant Memory Fog:
One of the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease is frequent memory lapses that worsen with time. Occasional lapses in remembering dates or names happen to everyone, but when a person needs constant reminders for daily tasks or asks the same question many times over because he cannot retain new information, it could be the onset of Alzheimer's.
2. Trouble following multi-step tasks:
Difficulty completing familiar tasks, especially ones that have many steps, is another early sign of Alzheimer's disease. Following a recipe, getting dressed, or balancing a cheque book could become challenging for those with Alzheimer's.
3. Unable to recollect words:
Language problems are also common in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. They may struggle with finding the right words or phrases, following conversations, writing, and spelling. Often, they lose track of their thoughts, look lost in the middle of a chat, or use a different word for a familiar object.
4. Misplacing belongings and inability to track:
A common symptom of Alzheimer's would be keeping things in unusual places, such as placing a phone in the refrigerator and being unable to retrace steps to find lost items.
5. Personality changes:
Alzheimer's disease can cause severe mood swings and a noticeable personality change. The afflicted may become confused, suspicious, fearful, or anxious. Family and friends may also notice changes in their social behavior, such as losing interest in hobbies they once loved and withdrawing from social events and activities.
6. Problem with distance and direction:
Difficulty with spatial awareness and visual perception is another early sign of Alzheimer's disease. People affected lose the sense of direction and have trouble driving. They often wander off and end up in unfamiliar surroundings.
7. Making poor decisions:
Alzheimer's affects a person's ability to make everyday decisions, such as how to pack for a trip, plan a meal and respond to situations, such as crossing a busy road or sensing danger.
It is important to note that these early signs of Alzheimer's disease may not be noticeable in all individuals. Some people may experience only a few of these symptoms, and the extent could vary. Also, these symptoms could manifest due to other conditions, such as medicinal side effects or depression.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these early signs of Alzheimer's disease, we advise you to consult a healthcare provider for further evaluation, treatment and care.
In addition to seeking medical attention, one can adopt lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. These include maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, staying mentally active through activities such as reading or puzzles, and getting enough sleep.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is critical because it allows for timely intervention and treatment. Early detection can help slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.
A society that cares for its senior citizens is a civilized and enlightened society. The aging happens on its own without any prompting from our side! It is an issue of mind over matter…if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!
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