Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, or loss of brain function, that is of increasing concern to health professionals and caregivers due to the greater number of people living well into old age. It is a condition that gets worse over time and affects memory, thinking and behavior. While the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not clearly understood, it is believed that genes and environmental factors play important roles.
Although late-onset (after age sixty) Alzheimer’s is the more common form, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can be more difficult to handle because symptoms may arise well before the age of sixty. With early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can run in families, the patient’s symptoms tend to worsen quickly.
The symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s will vary from one patient to the next, but here are ten warning signs that you can watch for:
1. Misplacing items that are used regularly
2. Getting lost on what was a familiar path or route
3. Language problems or trouble naming familiar objects
4. Personality changes, especially sudden argumentative or violent behavior
5. Loss of interest in hobbies or social activity
6. Loss of memory regarding recent events or people
7. Difficulty in problem-solving or doing somewhat complicated tasks
8. Having difficulty with or taking longer to perform usual tasks
9. Change in sleep patterns, especially waking at night
10. Depression, delusions, agitation or hallucinations.
It is possible that these symptoms may be caused by something other than Alzheimer’s. However, if you observe one or more of them in a patient, a doctor’s immediate evaluation is necessary.