In the United States, 5.3 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and a new individual is diagnosed with the disease every 70 seconds. Unless something is done, by 2050, up to 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s, and a new case will be diagnosed every 33 seconds.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that slowly robs a person of their memory and personality, causing them to forget their friends, families, and eventually themselves. There is currently no cure for this disease, however, there are medications that can help slow the progression of the disease, if detected early.
What are some of the common signals you can be looking for if you suspect your loved one might have Alzheimer’s disease? Here are some of the classic signs:
- Memory loss is one of the first signs of this disease – specifically short-term memory loss. Do you find your loved one asking the same question over and over? Or is he/she having trouble remembering things such as where they put the car keys? Having some trouble remembering things is not unusual and could certainly be a part of normal aging. However, if you find a loved one continually misplaces car keys or forgets what he or she ate for dinner it could be cause for further investigation by a physician.
- Putting items in unusual places, for example putting the phone receiver in the refrigerator.
- Hoarding items in a purse or bedroom.
- Withdrawing socially from friends or not attending events he/she once enjoyed.
- Signs of paranoia taking over where once rational thinking prevailed; perhaps your loved one is accusing people of stealing from him/her.
- A noticeable decline in personal hygiene.
- Wearing the same clothes over and over or layering clothing.
- Not being able to recall common names for everyday objects, for example spoon or pencil.
- The inability to balance a checkbook.
If you suspect someone in your family is having problems with their memory the best course of action is to have them see their doctor right away. The earlier a person is diagnosed, the faster treatment can be initiated and the longer we can help keep your loved one’s memory intact.
Do you know someone that is exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms? Remember, the sooner you can intervene and assist the person in getting a thorough checkup, the better off they will be. And most importantly, assure him or her you are there to help, as he/she will most likely be frightened. If you have helped a loved one you suspected had signs of Alzheimer’s disease, we’d like to hear about your experience.