A caregiver assists a victim of Alzheimer's. (Courtesy photo)
A caregiver assists a victim of Alzheimer's. (Courtesy photo)

Information provided by act.alz.org

Worldwide, 50 million people currently live with various forms of dementia (an overall term that describes a group of symptoms and is not a specific disease, including that which is the most common — the degenerative brain disease known as Alzheimer’s.

And as finals plans continue in anticipation of the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Washington, D.C., scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13 on the National Mall, many readers have said they remain unfamiliar with the most common warning signs and symptoms that may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Memory loss which disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s — a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.

Below are 10 warning signs and symptoms that should not be ignored and should prompt you to schedule an appointment with your physician:

Memory loss that disrupts daily life — One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

Challenges in planning or solving problems — Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers, have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills or have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure — People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

Confusion with time or place — Those with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately and may forget where they are or how they got there.

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships — For some, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

New problems with words — Some may have trouble following or joining a conversation, they may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps — A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again and sometimes, they may even accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

Decreased or poor judgment — One may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money and give large amounts to telemarketers. They may even pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

Withdrawal from work or social activities — A person may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They also may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

Changes in mood and personality — It’s not unusual for one to become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may become easily upset at home, work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zones.

Get checked as early detection matters. With early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer, as well as increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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