Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia that affects the individual as well as the person’s loved ones. As a clinical diagnosis — that is, one obtained from signs, symptoms, history or other information that doesn’t include tests — it is extremely important to keep track of anything unusual so that the physician can make an accurate diagnosis. Friends and family should record and report any abnormal changes in the person’s behavior, memory or daily living activities, because the individual affected with Alzheimer’s will most likely be in denial and will not be able to give an accurate and thorough history.
According to an article, “Early Diagnosis of Dementia” published by the American Academy of Family Practice, signs and symptoms abound with Alzheimer’s dementia. Here are the common ones highlighted by the article.
Cognitive changes are very common in people with dementia, in particular Alzheimer’s dementia. New forgetfulness such as losing car keys, getting lost in familiar areas, mismanaging money, forgetting the names of loved ones and having trouble finding words are all common cognitive signs of Alzheimer’s dementia. In addition, many people with early signs of Alzheimer’s might have trouble with spoken and written communication, and difficulty remembering common facts such as the U.S. president. It is common for the individual to hide these signs and make excuses, so it is important to document these lapses when noticed.
Changes in mood are very common in people with Alzheimer’s dementia. Difficulty sleeping, problems concentrating, depression, anxiety, withdrawal and apathy are common changes in mood that can occur in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Changes in daily living activities
Activities of daily living, commonly referred to as ADLs, include routine tasks such as bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, managing finances and running errands. People with Alzheimer’s disease experience decline in these daily tasks. A decline in more complicated tasks such as managing money and grocery shopping will occur before a decline in the more simple tasks such as grooming, dressing and cooking.
Common social and personality mishaps seen in dementia include blunting, agitation, restlessness, disinterest, social withdrawal and unfriendliness. People who are in social or volunteer clubs will often drop out, or people who are employed will have trouble in the workplace.
A good record
Acquire a good history of these symptoms, because this is extremely helpful when diagnosing the patient. Keep a diary or a journal of these symptoms and bring them to the health care provider. Although Alzheimer’s is a clinical diagnosis, it is common to perform routine laboratory tests to rule out any underlying cause of memory loss such as hypothyroidism, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, infection, hearing or vision deficits, and other organic causes. Recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia and seek care as soon as possible.