Research suggests that it is important to spot Alzheimer's disease and related dementias early as this can help with the prescription of medications for cognitive enhancement. If it is caught early, the right medications can help to slow the progression of Alzheimer's, thus postponing the more severe symptoms that come in the advanced stages. Contrary to popular belief, the disease can come on slowly and the warning signs can be very subtle. The warning signs of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias include:
Subtle Changes in Short Term Memory
Many of the subtler symptoms of dementia revolve around memory. Common memory-related events include forgetting the reason for going into a particular room or forgetting where they left an item. However, they may be able to remember events from many years in the past.
Problems with Problem-Solving and Basic Planning
Dementia sufferers may have issues with tasks like following recipes, even if they have followed that recipe many times before. They may also have a hard time concentrating on math-related tasks like balancing a checkbook.
Law-breaking Activities Such as Stealing
These activities can be an indication of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) which is an age-related disorder that affects some adults between the ages of 45 and 65. This dementia can affect their decision-making abilities thus making it difficult for them to differentiate between right and wrong behaviors.
Mood Swings and Personality Shifts
Changes in emotional state and temperament are common in those suffering from dementia though it may be difficult for those with the condition to recognize in themselves. For example, many in the early stages of dementia find themselves dealing with depression. Common personality changes include previously introverted or shy people shifting to extroverted behavior.
The Inability to Pick up on Sarcasm and Lying
People with Alzheimer's disease often have a hard time understanding when something is said sarcastically. At least one study has shown that people with FTD can also have a hard time detecting lies, though Alzheimer's sufferers tend to retain this ability.
People with early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease tend to have a higher likelihood of falling when compared to those without those symptoms. This condition is called progressive supranuclear palsy and may also prevent Alzheimer's sufferers from catching themselves on the way down thus increasing their odds of being injured.