Many people assume that the biggest and main symptom to Alzheimer’s is memory loss. However, you may be surprised to know that memory loss is not always the first symptom that points to the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease. As a matter of fact memory loss and dementia can also point to other diseases. So what are some of the main symptoms that point to the possibility of Alzheimer’s?
Possible Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Changes in gait during walking – this can be anything from taking smaller, shorter steps to leaning to one side or another. It can also be a cause of instability.
- Loss of Fine Motor Skills – you may notice that someone has trouble buttoning a shirt, threading a needle, or performing a task which requires fine motor skills that they normally did every day.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns – while this in and of itself is not unusual as we age; insomnia, long daytime naps, and confusing day time with night time patterns can be a sign of Alzheimer’s and in particular Sundowner’s Syndrome. Any changes in sleep patterns need to be brought to the attention of their physician.
- Hygiene Changes – often someone who is usually quite neat and tidy in appearance may begin to wear the same clothes every day. They may also take fewer showers/baths and stop everyday hygiene routines such as brushing their teeth, brushing their hair and more.
- Easily Getting Confused with Everyday Tasks – it is not unusual for those who have Alzheimer’s to suddenly forget how to do an everyday task that is normal for them. They may forget where the coffee grounds go in the coffee machine or even that a slow cooker gets plugged in to use and not placed on top of the stove. Simple things that would normally be done without any thought may start confusing them.
- Misplacing Items – Many times those with Alzheimer’s will not only misplace items but often put them in places that don’t make sense. You may find a hairbrush in the microwave or some other strange action. Perhaps they are misplacing gifts that they purchased for holidays, losing their keys regularly, and even putting items in places that they don’t belong.
- Repetitive Behavior – To many it may appear to be almost OCD like – checking the doors to make sure they are locked, over and over; picking up their purse and setting it back down to make sure it’s there; washing their hands and then washing them again for no real reason, or cleaning their glasses after having just cleaned them a few minutes earlier.
- Getting Lost or Wandering Aimlessly – a very good example of this is when a friend of mine’s grandmother would be riding along with her husband and suddenly get a panicked look on her face. She would quickly state “I don’t know where we are! Where are we?” and her husband would say, “Well Fran we’re on Miller Street. This is the way we always come home from getting groceries.” She would then evidently pretend she knew and simply say, “Oh, yeah.” My friend realized that there were other times when they hadn’t really put it all together and her grandmother would come over for lunch but she was always late. When my friend asked her “Why are you late grandma?” her grandmother would always answer that she took the long way. Later, as they began to realize something was wrong my friend understood that what was happening was she knew most of the typical route but she would sometimes suddenly get lost and drive around aimlessly until things looked familiar again.
- Difficulty Finding Words – many times language can be affected by Alzheimer’s. In most cases it’s a matter of finding the right word for what they are trying to say. It can be a very common word but they just can’t seem to find it. This may also make it so they suddenly become quiet and not talk much; because they are seeing that they can’t quite carry on a conversation easily and feel frustrated.
- Having Lapses in Making Judgments – one of the scariest things that can happen is when you realize a loved one is not making proper judgment calls. I’ve heard many people say that they’re parents or loved ones suddenly take large sums of money out of the bank; only to realize it after they get their statement or checks start bouncing. They may answer the door to complete strangers or carry on phone conversations with a person they don’t know. Unfortunately many people think it’s simply common for seniors to show lapses in judgment but it is not. In most cases senior will become more cautious and feel slightly afraid of strangers and being in strange surroundings.
While each of these symptoms alone does not indicate that a person has Alzheimer’s they need to be noted and the person’s physician needs to be made aware. Let your doctor know even the slightest changes you see in your loved one because even if it is not Alzheimer’s it could be the early onset of dementia or some other disease.
Most of all know that if you live in the Long Island area GO Physical Therapy & Wellness can come to you and your loved one to help make their quality of life as good as possible. There are symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s that we have treatments and therapies designed to help them with. We specialize in working with those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. Strengthening them and increasing their balance, addressing their change in gait and so many other symptoms are just the beginning of how we can make a difference in their life.
Dedicated To Your Health & Well-being (and safety),