Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness

alzheimer-slide-introNovember has several observances this month that don’t include Thanksgiving. We are going to start with “Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness.” So in helping with this awareness we would like to share:

10 Signs of Alzheimer’s:
Alzheimer’s disease is a truly life-changing illness, and one of the few that arguably can have an impact not just on the one directly afflicted by it, but by their entire family as well.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that normally affects older people (65+); however, doctors are unsure why this is and why it happens with some people and not to others, especially because the disease is not a normal part of aging.
The disease was first identified by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906 at a time when dementia was well known, but its causes not easily pinpointed. What he discover was to what would be later referred to as the two hallmarks of the disease; the first being “plaques,” which are multiple, tiny and dense protein deposits throughout the brain that in large levels become toxic, and “tangles” of the nerve cells, called neurofibrillary tangles, that interfere with vital processes, and eventually they kill off living cells. When brain cells break down and die, brain scans have shown a noticeable ‘shrinkage’ in some areas.
The result of this degeneration of the brain can be generally referred to as dementia, especially with Alzheimers being the most common form of it, but it is important to note all of the signs and symptoms surrounding this onerous disease. With Alzheimer’s not only affecting the individual who is sick, it is prudent to be well versed in all the symptoms so as not to only better care for your loved one, but so you can still manage a life of your own during this burdensome journey.
1. Memory Loss:
Memory loss is easily the most associated symptom of Alzheimer’s disease although it isn’t often how people think it is. Many are under the impression that with the onset of Alzheimer’s that the memory simply begins to fade, and while that is true in some cases, and in most over time, at the beginning, it is new information that is usually the type that suffers.
Alzheimer’s changes usually first develop in the part of the brain that affects learning. Thus it is usually new learned information that can be difficult to retain while older, more ingrained memories are usually left more or less intact. However, it is important to note that with no cure for Alzheimer’s and the progressive nature of the disease, that in time, even older memories are likely to begin to fade.
2. Employment Problems:
The general population these days is working several years later in life than was once the norm. It is through this that we have been able to notice these symptoms unfold in real time.
At the early onset of Alzheimer’s, as we mentioned before, learning new skills and retention of that knowledge can be very difficult. And in many cases, it isn’t just new skills that become difficult to perform or retain. Tasks that and individual has done for years without any problem can suddenly become daunting and even confusing. Employers might tell you that you appear to be overwhelmed or are getting behind in your work.
If you notice that you or someone you love is not their usual “sharp” self, and there is no clear reason why, it is advisable to go see a professional, as early detection of this disease can make a huge impact on the quality of life one lives with it.
3. Daily Life Confusion:
While most may desire to forget they even have monthly expenses to pay, you don’t want to get your finances all mixed up without even knowing it. Imagine having your electric turned off because you were confused paying the bills last month; this is all too common for Alzheimer’s patients. Everyday tasks become more and more challenging which is why being candid with your medical team is so vital to get a treatment plan that aides with these issues.
4. Visual Issues:
Sight is a very complicated sense. First you must see something with your eyes, which then gets transmitted to your brain, where it is then deciphered and made sense of – we hope. However, knowing as we do that Alzheimer’s affects the brain it is understandable that visual issues might arise.
Visuoperceptual difficulty is what happens when sight and perception become askew somewhere along the way, usually in the brain. Common mistakes include illusions, which is when what a person sees is a distortion of reality; misperceptions, which is when what a person sees is ‘best guess’ given the inaccurate information received/perceived; and misidentifications, which is when damage to the brain causes difficulty in identifying objects and people.
5. Fine Motor Skills:
Going back to the basis of the disease, and the impact it has on the brain, makes each case of Alzheimer’s a little bit different. Depending on where the plaque builds up and where the tangles occur, largely depends on what symptoms the sufferer experiences.
While a loss in motor skills as the disease progresses is a very real possibility, sometimes this can also occur as a result from other symptoms being experienced. Confusion, memory loss, and visual issues can all significantly impact one’s fine motor skill set. It is also for this reason and symptom that the decline that is Alzheimer’s is so difficult to bear witness too.
6. Trouble Speaking:
In many ways, it can be said that those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease often revert (unwillingly of course) back to a child-like demeanor when they engage in conversation and interaction with others. Some doctors believe that this is a result of degradation to certain parts of the brain, while others believe that it is simply the affected’s attempt at trying to communicate, and unfortunately, like a child is often the best they can do.
You might notice that they frequently interrupt others, are unable to maintain a singular thought, cannot hold a conversation or suddenly start to talk about completely irrelevant topic. Needless to say, it requires some degree of patience to be with a person at this stage of Alzheimer’s.
7. Losing Items:
Now, obviously this one is connected to several other symptoms on this list. Memory loss, and confusion mainly, but this one is especially important to the family of someone affected, as memory loss and confusion can often go months or years without be noticed – if they ever are at all.
By keeping eye out on your loved ones, especially the aging ones, you increase your chances of noticing a problem in its infancy – that is of course if you know what to look for.
The best way to tell is to give your entrust your love ones with small, seemingly meaningless tasks. This can be anything from asking them to remember an item when you go to the store to holding onto a set of keys. The point is to keep just as much track of the item as you hope they would. That way, you can get an accurate picture as to where their mental faculties are.
8. Poor Judgement:
This sign of the presence of Alzheimer’s disease can be likened to regularly of exhibiting child-like behavior. Many report that their loved ones with Alzheimer’s often demonstrate a disregard for consequences, even referring to the behavior as brazen. Difficulty can be had in explaining instructions, especially as we know the ability to learn and retain new information often being unfortunately one of the first parts of the mind to be ravaged.
Severity of these symptoms varies greatly on a patient by patient basis, but it is often exhibited in those who have suffered from the disease for a prolonged period of time – give the degenerative and progressive nature of the disease. The more severe the illness becomes, the likely grows that your loved will require 24-hour care.
9. Emotional:
Another area of the brain that is commonly affected by the onslaught of Alzheimers is the hippocampus, or the area of the brain that deals with emotions – more specifically emotional maturity.
Again, this is often likened to childlike behavior, as a suffer from Alzheimer’s disease may often overreact to situations or on the inverse, might not fully grasp the severity of others. This disconnect directly impacts many other symptoms of the disease, from poor judgement and diction making skills, to trouble speaking and employment problems.
It is also worth noting that a great deal of family members of people affected by Alzheimer’s report that their decline in emotional maturity is one of the hardest symptoms to bear witness to. That is because we normally think of these people in their prime; the peak of their lives, in which physically and mentally there was little they couldn’t accomplish, at least in our eyes. However, seeing them likes this, child like, stirs great feelings in many of us, often ones that are hard to deal with. It is unnatural for many people to see that, especially in their parents or loved ones.
10. Decreased Activities:
A common symptom among people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is a general decrease in all activities – and as obvious as this symptom might be to some, it doesn’t make it any easier to witness.
When you imagine all of the other symptoms impact a person’s life, it is no wonder that they are not acting the way the ones were, and this is in part to not feeling like they can and to actually not being able to.
Many suffers of Alzheimer’s become lethargic and loose interest, exhibiting levels of depression and anxiety. While it might not be acknowledge by someone suffering from Alzheimer’s just having a person in their presence can often make a big difference.
One of the hallmark aspects of Alzheimer’s disease is the fact it not only affects the person behind the illness, but is also devastating to witness, and thus can be difficult for the family. However, it is near impossible to battle this disease alone. This is why it is so important to be aware of the signs and symptoms, so you can have a better idea of what to do if Alzheimer’s should rear itself in your life.
This disease has affected many families including my own. We hope that this information provided by has been helpful.

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