Recognizing the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s in a Family Member

June 19, 2017

Memory loss isn’t the only sign of Alzheimer’s. Nor is it always the first symptom to appear. Here are some early signs of Alzheimer’s you may not know about.

Memory loss is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s not always the first symptom to appear, say scientists. Other early signs of Alzheimer’s may appear long before forgetfulness takes hold.

Even before doctors can make a clinical diagnosis, some early changes can be signals to informed family members that something is amiss with their loved one.  Knowing these signs is one way to be proactive about your loved one’s health.

The following are the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s. Take note, and keep them top-of-mind as you interact with your senior loved one.

  1. Personality Changes

Has your senior loved one started acting differently? Is it uncharacteristic for him or her to be irritable but now they seem to be complaining about everything? If so, find out what’s going on. It could just be a case of temporary grumpiness. Or it may also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

One way to tell the difference is if personality changes last for more than six months, say Alzheimer’s researchers who have conducted studies on the matter.

Other personality changes to watch out for include:

  • anxiety or tearfulness
  • lack of motivation for activities they used to enjoy
  • suddenly not knowing how to behave appropriately in public or in private
  • being paranoid or overly suspicious of other people
  • becoming agitated or frustrated easily

Again, it’s important to remember that these symptoms don’t necessarily herald the onset of Alzheimer’s. However, if they seem to persist for longer than six months, it may be a sign.

Be sure to have a thorough conversation about your observations with your senior loved one’s doctor.

  1. Trouble Navigating

People often associate getting lost with Alzheimer’s. Everyone has heard a different variation of the story about the senior with Alzheimer’s. He can’t find his way home after shopping for groceries or he needs a map to drive to an old friend’s house that he’s been visiting for decades.

Now there’s new scientific evidence to support this. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has published a study showing a link between navigation problems and the disease. Results suggest that difficulty with maps can signal the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

  1. Vision Problems

Sometimes, early signs of Alzheimer’s can display as vision problems. Maybe your loved one is having a hard time judging distances. That can lead to accidents when steps are misjudged, for example. Or maybe reading is troublesome. Determining color might become difficult, too.

  1. Planning is Too Much to Handle

Another early warning sign to watch out for is when problem-solving and planning becomes overwhelming. For example, if your mother feels anxiety over putting together a family meal, that may be a red flag.

Where to Get Help

Alzheimer’s disease is hard for everyone: you, your family, and those who suffer from the disease itself. Legacy Senior Living can be a resource for families with loved ones who exhibit early signs of the disease early or at any stage along the way. Our Memory Care Programs are nationally recognized, as is our commitment to helping seniors with dementia reach their highest potential every day.

We welcome you to visit, call, or email any time with questions about Alzheimer’s. Our experience caregivers can be a resource to you and the senior you love.