Critter Corner: Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, According to Experts

Dear Oakley,

I often forget people’s names or what I’m doing even while I’m doing it, it seems. I’m worried I could be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Is there any new information available about the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia? Thanks for your help!

Earl E. Sines

Dear Earl,

Harvard-trained neuroscientist Shaun Patel, Ph.D, and Ryan Glatt, Senior Brain Health Coach and Director at FitBrain, recently spoke about some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s to Forbes Magazine.

“Alzheimer’s disease can initially present as a single, troublesome symptom or as a collection of more than one,” according to Dr. Patel.  He explains that, “(s)ince the brain is a highly interconnected network, we often see multiple aspects of cognition, mood, decision-making and beyond that are affected throughout the stages of the disease.”

Glatt describes three early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease as being repeated memory challenges, difficulty performing activities of daily living (ADLs), and changes in decision making ability. These can be further described as follows:

  • Repeated Memory Challenges: Forgetting someone’s name sometimes is a common example of normal, age-related cognitive change. More frequent, significant and repetitive memory problems can be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
    • Examples of such memory problems can include forgetting recently learned information, forgetting important dates or events and asking the same questions over and over.
  • Difficulty Performing Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Making mistakes while completing familiar activities, such as bathing, dressing, and performing normal daily tasks including writing a grocery list or managing one’s finances, may also be early warning sign of Alzheimer’s. Other common examples can include experiencing trouble driving to a familiar location or forgetting where one is going.
  • Changes in Judgment and Decision Making Ability: While exercising poor judgment and making poor decisions once in a while is a normal part of the human experience, individuals with Alzheimer’s may experience more pronounced changes in judgment or decision making ability. For instance, individuals with Alzheimer’s may become impulsive in how they manage money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

When to See a Doctor

An Alzheimer’s Association survey found nearly all primary care physicians (96%) say it’s important to assess patients who are at least 60 years old for cognitive decline. However, a large portion of eligible patients miss out on this important screening. If there are any symptoms that you or a family member may feel concerned about, it’s always helpful to check in with your physician, as opposed to assuming a cognitive change is a just a part of normal aging.

Plan in Advance if You or a Loved One Have Alzheimer’s

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, or any other form of dementia, be sure to make an appointment at the Farr Law Firm to plan as far in advance as possible while the person can still make decisions for themselves.

Hope this is helpful,

Oakley

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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