8 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease You Shouldn’t Ignore
Old age is inevitable, as are some of the health conditions associated with it. Each time you visit your family back home, you notice a drop in your parent’s stamina and vitality. They may not be able to play with their grandkids for as long as they used to, their attention span may not be as good as it was and they may not even be able to sit in one place for too long. While you ignore these changes thinking of them as a part and parcel of old age, you may also be ignoring warning signs of a condition that requires serious medical attention.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, which is a brain condition that leads to a decline in an individual’s memory, thinking and reasoning abilities. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 65, while genetics also have a role to play in triggering it. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that as many as 5 million Americans age 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Keep a lookout for the following warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Memory Loss – Each one of us faces minor bouts of memory loss sometime or the other. While your problem may be restricted to tractable situations like not remembering minor details from a meeting, in people suffering from Alzheimer’s, memory loss can disrupt their day to day activities. They often tend to forget recently learned information and may ask you the same questions, over and over. They may even have trouble remembering significant dates, numbers and places that are familiar to them.
2. Communication Problems (Speaking And Writing) – If you find your parents or loved ones at a loss of words almost every time they talk, it could be a sign that they have Alzheimer’s. Dementia patients find it hard to continue a conversation and are often repetitive in their speech. Their speech and writing style may even be incomprehensive and incoherent. Make sure you are patient and tactful while communicating with them.
3. Poor Problem Solving Abilities – Your dad, once a math whiz who taught you all that you know about numbers, today finds it difficult to keep a track of monthly bills and personal accounts. Chances are that he might be affected with dementia.
4. Difficulty Performing Routine Tasks – Tasks like cooking, cleaning and driving, which were earlier routinely performed by Alzheimer patients may now seem difficult to perform. They may ask for assistance even for the smallest of tasks like warming food or using their phones.
5. Disorientation Regarding Time And Place – How often have you lost your way to your own house? Chances seem bleak, don’t they? With Alzheimer patients, it’s a common occurrence. This condition is associated with people losing track of their location and even forgetting how they got there. Alzheimer patients may also have trouble understanding what time, day and season it is currently.
6. Mood Swings And Personality Changes – Who doesn’t have bad days? It could be because your boss screamed at you or because you and your partner ended up in a tiff. Alzheimer patients on the other hand may display extremely erratic mood swings, sometimes even without a reason. They confine themselves to a set routine and display signs of confusion, sadness, fright and anxiety around family, friends or colleagues, whenever they are placed outside their comfort zone.
7. Visuospatial Inabilities – Though vision problems are common among the elderly, in some, it could be an early symptom of Alzheimer’s. Individuals suffering from AD may have difficulty in reading, judging distances and differentiating between colors or contrast. This may even lead to problems while driving.
8. Social Withdrawal – Alzheimer’s makes even the most sociable individuals uncomfortable doing activities that require them to mingle and fraternize with friends, family and acquaintances. A person with Alzheimer’s may begin to disconnect himself from social situations, his favorite hobbies, work and even family gatherings.
Risk Factors Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Some of the biggest risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease include age, genetics, trauma, mentally stimulating lifestyle and social engagements, poor cardiovascular health and factors like smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and unhealthy diet that contribute to the same. Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to keep your own nervous health in check.
1. Age – As established earlier, age is one of the most common factors associated with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As per the Alzheimer’s Association, the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease doubles every 5 years after the age of 65. Beyond the age of 85, the risk reaches almost 50%.
2. Family History – Family history is another strong risk factor for developing AD. This especially holds true if an individual’s first degree relatives like parents or siblings have Alzheimer’s and the risk further increases if more than one family member is affected by the disease.
3. Gender – Women are more prone to developing this condition as compared to men, a report by U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests. The risk of AD in women is up to 3 times higher than men. The chances are also more likely to increase after menopause, which leads to estrogen deficiency. This is one of the as the primary sex-related risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
4. Lifestyle – Lifestyle related conditions and habits like smoking, lack of exercise, a nutrient deficient diet, cardiovascular disease, obesity and high blood pressure are also known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
5. Head Injuries – People who have suffered serious head injuries are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Their risk heightens if an individual suffers repeated head trauma.
6. Low Levels Of Education And Social Engagement – Studies have found a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s in individuals who have received quality education and are involved in mentally stimulating and social activities like reading, playing, interacting with peers etc.
If you find your loved ones displaying the aforementioned symptoms of dementia, it is advisable to take them to the doctor without further ado. Any delay on your part can cause the condition to intensify and lead to further health concerns like falls and injuries, so an early detection can prevent serious complications.
This is a guest post written by Vineetha Reddy
Being a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to nutrition, fitness, health and wellness, Vineetha has also begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem. She strongly believes that the ingredients you find in your pantry provide the best benefits for good health. Follow her for her best ideas and solutions in Twitter
Further articles about Alzheimer’s disease:
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2. This Common Vitamin Deficiency Can Lead to Dementia
3. This Fruit Can Halt Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis
4. Top 5 Foods and Supplements to Delay Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
5. This Common Pill Can Be The Recipe for Alzheimer’s and Dementia