What are the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages?

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects mostly older people. Alzheimer’s disease strikes people before they reach the age of 65.

Alzheimer’s disease causes memory loss as well as a slew of other symptoms. It is a progressive condition, meaning that the symptoms will worsen over time. The most frequent type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

Experts assume that early-onset Alzheimer’s disease accounts for fewer than 10 percent of all cases. It is usually caused by an inherited genetic trait. It usually appears in people in their 40s or 50s, but it can start as early as their 30s.

Although there is currently no cure, medication can help manage symptoms and slow the condition’s progression.

The symptoms, causes, and treatment options related to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are discussed in this article.

Providing assistance to a loved one

People can help a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease in a variety of ways. They could, for example, try:

  • To gain a better grasp of the person’s situation, learn about Alzheimer’s disease.
  • speaking with the individual and partaking in activities that are enjoyable to both parties.
  • providing practical assistance, such as food preparation or transportation to appointments
  • through support networks, you can connect with other people.
  • keeping in mind that this is the same person.
  • enquiring about the person’s well-being.
  • talking to a counselor or another trustworthy person about your changing relationship is a good idea.

Causes

According to Genetics Home Reference, genetic factors are most likely to blame for early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Some people are born with mutations in specific genes and acquire familial Alzheimer’s disease at a young age. The alterations cause the brain to create harmful proteins, which stack up in the brain and form amyloid plaques, which are clumps of protein.

The genes are passed down through the generations in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means that a person only has to inherit one copy of the mutated gene from a parent to acquire the condition. Frequently, the father suffers from the same condition.

Others don’t have these modifications, and it’s unclear why some people have the condition; nevertheless, additional genes may be implicated.

Symptoms and signs

Memory loss

Memory loss is the most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, but other changes can also occur. Other types of dementia can have symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses can cause symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms.

1. Impaired daily tasks due to memory loss

Memory loss is frequently the most visible indication of Alzheimer’s disease. A person may begin to forget communications or recent occurrences in ways that are out of character for them. They may ask the same question again, forgetting either the answer or the fact that they asked it previously.

People forget things as they become older, but with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, this happens earlier in life, more frequently, and appears out of character.

2. Difficulty carrying out routine tasks

It’s possible that the person will struggle to complete a task that they’re used to. For example, they may struggle to:

  • prepare a simple meal
  • follow the rules of a familiar game
  • get to a grocery store, restaurant, or place of employment

As people get older, they may want assistance with new or unfamiliar items, such as the settings on a new phone. This, however, does not always imply a problem.

If, on the other hand, the person has been using the same phone for years and suddenly forgets how to make a phone call, they may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease-related memory loss.

3. Difficulties with problem-solving or planning

Following directions, solving issues, and concentration may be challenging for the individual. They could find it challenging, for example, to:

  • keep track of monthly bills or expenses
  • follow directions on a product
  • follow a recipe

These issues are common in some people, but if they begin to occur when they did not previously, it could suggest early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Vision and spatial awareness problems

Vision impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease might cause it difficult for people to assess distances between objects. The person may have difficulty distinguishing contrast and colors, as well as judging speed and distance.

The combination of these eyesight issues can impair a person’s ability to drive.

Because normal aging impairs eyesight, it’s critical to see an eye doctor on a frequent basis.

5. Confusion over time and location

The person may be unsure of where they are or what time it is. Seasons, months, and times of day may be difficult for them to remember.

In a strange environment, they may become perplexed. They may become confused in familiar settings or wonder how they got there as Alzheimer’s disease worsens. They may also begin to wander and become disoriented.

6. Misplacing stuff frequently and being unable to retrace steps

Most people lose things from time to time, but they can generally find them by searching in logical places and retracing their actions.

Someone with Alzheimer’s disease, on the other hand, may forget where they put something, especially if it’s in an unusual location. They may also be unable to track down the missing object by retracing their steps. This might be upsetting and cause to the victim believing that someone is robbing them.

7. Issues with writing or speaking

Words and communication may also be a problem for the individual. They could have trouble following or contributing to a conversation, or they might keep repeating themselves. It’s also possible that the person has trouble writing down their thoughts.

They might come to a halt in the middle of a conversation, unsure of what to say next. They could also have trouble finding the right word or mislabel things.

It is not uncommon for people to have difficulty finding the proper word at times. They usually remember it after a while and don’t have the problem again.

8. Symptoms of reduced judgment

The person’s ability to make sound decisions may have shifted. For instance, they could begin by saying:

  • Spending a lot of time on chores that aren’t necessary.
  • displaying a lack of interest in personal grooming, including washing
  • putting items away in unexpected places, such as placing keys in the refrigerator

9. Mood swings or personality changes

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may notice a change in their mood. They may be irritated, perplexed, worried, or melancholy. They may also lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed.

They may become annoyed by their symptoms or unable to comprehend the changes that are occurring. Aggression or anger toward others could be a sign of this.

10. Stepping away from social or work activities

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, a person’s ability to participate in social or work activities may diminish.

Behavior changeAlzheimer’sAging
Memory lossForgetting things and repeating questions in a way that is unusualSlowly becoming more forgetful
Completing tasksDifficulty completing familiar tasks such as buying groceries or preparing foodPotentially needing help with new or unfamiliar things such as new technology
Problem-solvingDifficulty following instructions such as a new recipe or keeping track of billsBeing a little slower to react to things or juggle multiple tasks
VisionProblems with vision and spatial awarenessDecreasing clarity of vision that may make it harder to distinguish shapes from a distance
TimekeepingDifficulty keeping track of what day it is and becoming confused in an unfamiliar placeForgetting the reason for entering a room before remembering again
Misplacing itemsMisplacing items in unusual places and struggling to retrace stepsMomentarily misplacing items before remembering where to find them
CommunicationLosing track of conversations, repeating sentences, and struggling to write down thoughtsOccasionally struggling to find the right word or needing to concentrate harder to keep up with conversation
Decision makingSpending a long time doing unnecessary tasks and neglecting personal groomingBeing a little slower in decision making
Mood changesExperiencing low moods and feelings of irritableness, anxiety, confusion, and depressionSometimes feeling weary or becoming irritable when there is disruption to a routine
SocializingNo longer participating in social activities that previously brought enjoymentSometimes feeling tired and worn out by social interactions

Diagnosis

If a person develops one or more of the symptoms listed above, they should see a doctor very away. Early detection may assist to slow the condition’s progression.

Because there is no definite test for Alzheimer’s disease at this time, a doctor will diagnose it based on the symptoms that can be seen. They could try:

  • asking certain questions to the person, such as where they live, and evaluating their answers
  • conversing with family members to learn about the person’s actions.
  • taking into account the individual’s personal and family medical history
  • performing various tests to rule out other probable causes, such as blood tests and brain imaging

Treatment

Because there is presently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, treatment focuses on symptom management. Among the treatment options available are:

  • cognitive stimulation therapy, which may help with memory, speech, and problem solving
  • support for living independently
  • treatments for insomnia
  • behavioral therapy to make life easier for the individual and their loved ones or caregivers
  • medications to help with memory loss and possibly slow the progression of the condition
  • counseling or medications to help manage depression or anxiety

Better therapy alternatives are constantly being researched.

Outlook

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, most people can expect to survive for another 8–10 years, however the outlook varies from 1–25 years. It will be influenced by the person’s age at the time of diagnosis, with younger people often living longer.

Pneumonia, malnutrition, or body wasting are common causes of mortality.

Conclusion

Alzheimer’s disease has no cure at this time, however medication can help manage the symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease is more likely to develop as people get older, but people with a family history of the disease may be at a higher risk.

Anyone who feels they or a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease should consult a physician.

Sources:

  • https://www.alz.org/national/documents/care_10waystohelpafamily.pdf
  • https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/alzheimer-disease/
  • https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm
  • https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322240
  • https://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_disease_causes.asp
  • https://www.alz.org/i-have-alz/helping-friends-and-family.asp
  • https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/138/9/2732/311444
  • https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-are-signs-alzheimers-disease
  • https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers
  • https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/younger-early-onset

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