November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. An increasing number of individuals are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s each year. Almost 1300 individuals develop Alzheimer’s each day, with someone developing the disease every 67 seconds (1) In 2015 there will be around 5.3 million people in the US with Alzheimer’s, with the majority being over 65 years old. As the population ages it is expected that those diagnosed with the disease witll eventually triple by 2050. This could decline of course if medical treatments to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s are discovered.
With the number of Alzheimer’s cases increasing, here are some signs to watch for.
- One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events and asking for the same information over and over. Individuals find themselves increasingly needing to rely on memory aids such as reminder notes or electronic devices, or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
- Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
- People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
- Individuals with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
- For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.
- People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name.
- A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
- Individuals with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
- A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
- The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
So if you have a loved one that you feel may be developing Alzheimer’s disease, be sure to provide support to them as they will probably be frustrated with the changes taking place. For some individuals with Alzheimer’s, wandering and not knowing how to get back home may be a concern: an Alzheimer’s bracelet from My Identity Doctor may be a solution for some peace of mind. If you are a family member who is also a caregiver to someone living with Alzheimer’s Disease, be sure to visit our Family Caregiver Month blog post.