Most people are not surprised to learn that one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease is problems with memory. This may include anything from forgetting recent events and conversations, to difficulty remembering names of people and places. Though forgetfulness is not a sure sign that Alzheimer's is developing, it shouldn't be overlooked either. In some cases, memory problems turn out to be a result of a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). However, more people with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer's than those who do not.
In addition to memory problems, there are several other early warning signs that Alzheimer's may be developing:
- Language problems
- Changes in personality or emotional behavior
- Difficulty with cognitive skills like abstract thinking, judgment and calculations
Since these are just the early symptoms associated with Alzheimer's, they are often insufficient to procure a diagnosis. However, they should be closely monitored, so it's a good idea to see a physician if you are experiencing these problems regularly. In many cases, a doctor may be able to prescribe a medication, herbal remedy or other treatment to help with these symptoms.
More Early Warning Signs
As Alzheimer's progresses, the warning signs of this disease become more noticeable. These symptoms are usually present in more developed cases of Alzheimer's and may affect an individual's ability to remain independent. Here is a list of early warning signs:
- Forgetting events from the past, including those from the person's own life history
- Difficulty reading or writing
- Using the wrong words or mispronouncing words
- Challenges while performing simple tasks, like preparing meals or driving
- Poor judgment, including a reduced ability to recognize danger
- Withdrawing from social interactions
- Changes in sleeping patterns and waking often at night
- Having delusions or hallucinations
- Irritability, sometimes leading to violent behavior
In severe cases of Alzheimer's, symptoms typically lead to total dependence on caregivers. These symptoms may include:
- Swallowing problems
- An inability to understand language
- An inability to recognize family members
- An inability to perform basic tasks like eating or bathing
Anyone experiencing the symptoms listed here should be sure to see a doctor, as that is the only way to ensure that a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is correct. There are some other conditions and diseases which may cause these symptoms, so it's important to see a physician to rule out those other possibilities.