The Early Stage of Alzheimer’s Disease [Infographic]

by Eric Corum

Early Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is a debilitating disorder that has touched almost every family in the world. As the incidences of the disease have increased, so has this common question: How do you know if it could be Alzheimer’s?

 early stage alzheimer's infographicClick to see larger version of this infographic

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. The disease affects people differently and progresses at different rates. The brain begins deteriorating years before any symptoms start to show. This deterioration before symptoms start showing up is referred to as the preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease can be divided in three sections

  • Mild (early-stage)
  • Moderate (middle-stage)
  • Severe (late-stage)

Life expectancy of seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease is varied: Nowadays it can last up to 20 years, especially if diagnosed in time and the right treatment is given.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Although the disease begins years before symptoms start to appear, there are clear warning signs and symptoms one can look for to know if it may be time to speak to your physician. The following are a few signs of early stage Alzheimer to look for that typically occur in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s: 

  • The most common sign is memory loss. Initially, this manifests itself as poor short term memory recall. Forgetting dates, names, things one may have just read or heard. The result could be an increase in relying on memory aides.
  • Difficulty completing routine every-day tasks at home or work. These tasks can include turning on the stove, using the washing machine, or controlling the television. All these routine tasks slowly start becoming challenges.
  • Vision problems, specifically having to do with spatial relationships. Reading a book, judging distances, and identifying colors all start becoming increasingly more difficult. Alzheimer’s disease not only affects the mind but also gradually affects other bodily systems.
  • Drastic mood and personality changes. People with Alzheimer’s can become confused, anxious, and irritable. They can become extremely upset for the tiniest things, especially when they are out of their comfort zone or in a location that is different from normal.
  • Social withdrawal. All of the above symptoms ultimately can lead to the social withdrawal of not only somebody with early stage Alzheimer’s disease but also their primary caregiver. This is an important 

What to do if you suspect Alzheimer’s Disease?

If you are worried you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s and are experiencing these symptoms, consult with your physician immediately. Although, there currently is only one definitive FDA-approved test for Alzheimer’s disease, a physician has other tools to determine whether it is Alzheimer’s. A knowledgable group, can administer a mini-mental status exam which is meant to determine the level of cognitive impairment. They also can eliminate any other causes for the symptoms, such as a hormone, mineral or vitamin imbalance.

Steps to take in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Although currently there are no cures for Alzheimer’s, there are many benefits of early diagnosis. Early treatment can help control the symptoms and help the individual remain as independent and fully functioning as possible.

Alzheimer’s, like many other neurological diseases, is a degenerative disease, meaning one that worsens over time. During early stage Alzheimer’s dementia, one can still maintain independence, continue to work, and even continue to drive. Although they are able to perform these tasks, the person will start noticing some of the very distinct symptoms such as memory loss or changes in behavior. If you begin to notice the common warning signs during your typical day, your doctor may be able to detect these memory lapses and concentration issues and help you treat them.

Once an appropriate medical plan of care has been devised by your physician and specialist, it is time to focus on the other areas where the disease could have an effect. We recommend speaking with care professionals in the field of Alzheimer’s and other dementias so you can create a care plan personalized to you.

These specialists can help explain the many different care types then help devise a strategy for when each care option could be used.  This helps with the anxiety of having to deal with an acute event, should it occur.

Speaking with an eldercare attorney is also a prudent step. They can assist with the financial and legal issues that can crop up as the disease begins to advance. It is best to tackle these issues early in the disease process when executive functioning is not yet compromised.

For friends and family members of those diagnosed, providing support and encouragement to those who have these symptoms is critical. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most feared ailments and thus can cause many people to avoid seeking expert opinions. Encouraging the primary caregiver to attend a support group is a fantastic way for them to receive education and emotional support throughout the entire disease process. 

 

Alzheimer’s treatment

Alzheimer’s is a catastrophic disease which has currently no cure. However, this fact should not discourage you or your loved one from consulting a doctor when suspecting you are at risk of having Alzheimer’s. Early detection has immediate benefits, including taking medications that have been clinically approved to slow its advancement. You should be proactive in your health and consult with your doctor as soon as you feel you are at risk.

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you think they need some support with the disease, we have developed a care plan for seniors with Alzheimer’s. We aim to provide comfort and companionship through these hard times with our expert in Alzheimer’s caregivers. Request more information by getting in touch with us

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