This is a guest post by Josh Anderson. According to the Alzheimers’ Association, someone in the world is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 70 seconds. Little is known about this debilitating disease and although it is genetically linked, there is no specific race, nationality or sex that it is directly linked to. Everyone is just as susceptible as the next person.
However, scientists have discovered that Alzheimer’s is caused by a chemical change to the neurotransmitters in the brain, which leads to the “loss” of brain cells. Once this change occurs, the disease interferes with how the brain brain functions. Mental abilities then begin to deteriorate. Cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning and perception are usually severely affected, but physical functions, such as muscle or organ control can also be affected. Here are some of the most prominent warning signs of those afflicted with this terrible condition.
Short-term Memory Loss
It’s not uncommon that while someone can seem to remember something that happened in their childhood, they easily forget just what they did the day before.
Problem Solving Impairment
It can often become hard to understand sequences of numbers, including days and months. A simple cooking recipe or instruction sheet can become a challenge too.
Daily Task Obstruction
An average task, such as grocery shopping or remembering to take medication, can become very confusing and hard to follow for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Misperception of Time
Besides losing track of important dates, time spans become altered in many patients. Often, one will live in the past and mistake people for relatives that have departed. They also, at times, cannot remember where they are or who they are with.
Not only does eyesight deteriorate, perception is altered. For instance, someone with Alzheimer’s might perceive people on television or a reflection in a mirror to actually be in the room.
Conversations may become repetitive, and it can be hard to follow what others are saying. As the illness progresses, often times one will just “ramble” on, lose track of what they are saying or “babble” without making any sense at all.
Many forget where they have placed items and cannot retrace their steps, while others “hide” objects in unusual places and then forget where they placed them.
Priorities, such as daily hygiene, often become forgotten, while something frivolous like watching television or feeding the birds over and over again becomes priority.
Strange but true, many suffering from Alzheimer’s constantly shuffle when they walk, without picking up their feet, and not just when they are tired.
Quite often, someone will state that “you just don’t understand them” and outbursts of anger will erupt even in the gentlest of people, and physical confrontation is possible.
Even the most mild-mannered among may cuss like a sailor, especially during emotional outbursts. Don’t be surprised to hear things you never imagined.
Even though as the body ages, it requires less sleep, a person with Alzheimer’s may just take frequent naps, avoiding sleeping overnight all together.
People with Alzheimer’s become paranoid believing that others want to do them harm, are stealing from them or strangers are “after” them.
Many will wander from their home to look for the home they “remember” from the past and can get lost even routes all the time.
Alzheimer’s occurs differently with everyone. In some, the progression is very sudden, while in others, warnings can plateau years down the road. Unfortunately, death usually occurs within 7-10 years of the onset. Professionals use a 7-stage scale to determine the severity of the case, with #1 having no cognitive decline (otherwise normal), while #7 will be marked by severe cognitive decline. If diagnosed at an early stage, there is some medication available to slow down the progression, but no cure.