Getting the correct diagnosis as early as possible is important for any disease or condition, as getting proper medication and treatment as soon as possible can go a long way toward delaying its onset or reducing its symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is no exception. While there is no cure for this devastating disease, doctors are researching new medications and therapies for it all the time. Therefore, it’s important to be knowledgeable about any early sign of Alzheimer’s disease in an aging parent or spouse. The proper medication, if given early enough, can do wonders to keep that person alert and active for much longer than without them.
Obviously memory loss is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but memory loss afflicts everyone from time to time and is typically a normal part of aging. It does not automatically mean Alzheimer’s. What may be a better indicator is what the patient is forgetting in particular. For example, if you forget to pick up your child after soccer practice, that may be somewhat normal and due to stress, an overworked schedule, assuming it was your spouse’s turn this week, and so on. However, if you’re looking right at your child and don’t remember who he or she is, that’s an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Unusual things can be forgotten easily, but everyday things that are forgotten can be more serious.
Paranoia is another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not unusual for those in the middle stages of the disease to start becoming very suspicious and accusatory of those around them. One of the ways that you can suspect that this is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease is that their accusations often make no sense. They may be certain that you are stealing from them, or that you’ve come into their house and done things – rearranged drawers, put clothes in the hamper, etc. – and may have a long list of complaints about others as well.
Changes in personality and behavior are also common, as the patient becomes more irritable and downright angry for no apparent reason.
If you suspect that a family member is displaying early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, you may want to make some notes of their symptoms and behavior, being as specific as you can. Then schedule an appointment with their family physician who can conduct further tests for an accurate diagnosis.