While you may feel far too young to care about the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s not something that only strikes the elderly. The disease generally affects those older than 65, but it can develop in your 30s or 40s in what’s referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s.
While the thought of the cognitive decline, confusion, and mood changes associated with the disease is scary, a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s is rare. It is, however, a good idea to be informed and be aware of early signs of a problem.
There are also preventative measures that can lower your chances of developing the disease. Including taking care of your health, enjoying fresh air and a dose of vitamin D, and exercising.
Let’s take a look at 13 most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
15. You Find Yourself Eating Unusual Things
Eating a varied diet is a healthy way to look at food, but if you find yourself making unusual food combinations and do not recall why, or if your preferences change dramatically (for example you start eating meat when you have been vegetarian) it could be a sign that your short term memory is affected.
16. You Don’t Recall Recent Events
It is far more likely that you will begin to forget recent events during the early stages of the disease, than life event that happened a long time ago. This is because early damage in Alzheimer’s affects a part of the brain called the Hippocampus, which has a central role in day-to-day memory. First 14 early warning signs
17. You Forget Birthdays / Anniversaries
Everybody forgets engagements from time to time but forgetting birthdays and other events at an increasing rate can mean more that a bout for forgetfulness. If somebody close to you reveals concern about your forgetfulness (and possibly insufficient remorse), it might be time to listen.
18. You get Disoriented on Familiar Journeys
Getting lost is a serious symptom of Alzheimer’s and can occur at any stage of the disease. Losing your way on a familiar journey is different to being prone to ‘wandering’, but it is a frightening experience. If you find yourself getting confused when taking routes you once knew with your eyes closed, don’t be afraid to seek advice.
19. You Repeat Yourself in Conversation
This is another symptom that you may not necessarily recognize yourself but something that would ne highlighted by loved ones or colleagues. Many of us repeat stories, particularly highly social people or those who move in many circles, but if you are repeating sentences within a conversation it may be that your short-term memory has already forgotten.
20. It Becomes Harder to Navigate Stairs
Stairs, ramps and cerbs can become difficult to navigate when your judgment becomes impaired. This could be because the brain struggles to determine the space or because it finds it harder to send signals to different parts of the body to work together. This symptom comes with a great risk of an accident so if you are experiencing anxiety when trying to navigate around, it is imperative to seek advice.
21. You Experience Mood Swings and Have insufficient Interest in Your Hobbies
Changes in mood move progressively with Alzheimer’s disease, but early signs include irritability and frustration. Another significant symptom is apathy, or insufficient enthusiasm for things that you usually enjoy. There are major explanations for these symptoms, both medical and psychological, but most experts would agree they can be considerably relieved by talking through these feelings with loved ones.
22. You’re Sleep Patterns are Disturbed
Changes in your sleep patterns are not unusual and can be brought on by stress, anxiety and medication to name a few. It is also a common symptom of early onset Alzheimer’s. The most common sleep disorder is often called, ‘sundowning’, and refers to people experiencing restlessness or agitation in the late afternoon or early evening; then failing to sleep during the night.
23. You Have Difficulty with Pronounciation and Speech
Studies have concluded that pausing and using filler words in conversation could actually be a sign of early onset Alzheimer’s. Other verbal changes including slurred speech, rambling or subtle verbal changes could be a sign of something more serious.
24. Day-t0-day Tasks Become Confusing
You may forget where you put your phone 20 times a day but if you ever find you forget how to operate familiar things like your phone or the TV remote it may be time to speak to a medical adviser.
25. You Find it Harder to Make Decisions
Impaired decision-making connects to a decreased sense of judgment or cognitive ability. Difficulty making decisions is certainly not always a medical symptom, it is a natural trait in many of us, but this is usually connected with a desire to please and a sense of fairness. If your difficulty making a decision is down to sudden memory loss or unexplained doubt, it may be time to take this reaction more seriously.
26. You Lack Spontaneity
Another personality change associated with Alzheimer’s is fear or anxiety about doing new things. You may seem to have less sparkle or ambition. This can be a troubling cycle as when one withdraws and stops doing things, they can become even less motivated. Talk to a loved one and put yourself out there; making a new friend or finding the courage to try something new could make a big difference to your health.
27. You Become Suspicious of People Close to you
Suspicions of loved ones and caregivers is usually a symptom of mid to late-Alzheimer’s but it is worth considering how this symptom develops. This sense of doubt in others will seem real to an Alzheimer’s patient, as they struggle to deal with cognitive decline. As an early sign, it is possible that you would project suspicion on others out of fear of your own forgetfulness and change in behavior.
28. Your Behavior is Unpredictable
We have all experienced the embarrassment of a poor decision but that sense of shame may set you apart from someone experiencing symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s. Unpredictability and inappropriate or unusual behaviors (including dressing improperly for the weather or using peculiar language) can be a sign of impaired judgment. This is particularly troubling if the behavior is quickly forgotten.
29. You Find Yourself Making Repetitive Movements
Repetitive behaviors can be brought on by anxiety, boredom or develop as a comforting motion. It is no surprise, therefore it could also be a sign of early onset AD.
30. What to do Next
If you have any concerns about early onset Alzheimer’s it is critical that you receive an accurate medical diagnosis. Many of these symptoms are small, are easy to ignore and can be related to other medical or psychological problems. However, a correct diagnosis can set you on the best possible path for your future health.