Dementia impacts the lives of an estimated 50 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Another 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Of those living with dementia, nearly 80% have Alzheimer’s disease. It’s by far the most common form.
In the United States alone, 5.8 million people have Alzheimer’s. As baby boomers continue to grow older, researchers believe this number will climb significantly. It’s important for adult children to be aware of signs a parent may be struggling with memory impairment. While many symptoms associated with mid- and late-stage Alzheimer’s are clearly noticeable, others aren’t.
Less Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s in a Senior
Most people think of memory problems or even a senior getting lost while driving when asked about the signs of Alzheimer’s. While those are classic symptoms, they aren’t the only ones.
Some symptoms of Alzheimer’s are easy to overlook or mistake as something else, including:
- Change in disposition: If a senior loved one has undergone a marked change in disposition, discuss it with their physician. For example, if your father has always been friendly and kind but is becoming short-tempered or suspicious, there might be something wrong. While he may just be going through a difficult time, it can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
- Financial mismanagement: Another easily overlooked red flag is an older adult making mistakes with finances. Because seniors are often the target of telemarketing or other scams, family members don’t realize something is wrong. They just think their loved one was the victim of a con. Other financial warning signs include making purchases they can’t afford or loaning large sums of money to people they don’t know well. A senior with dementia may neglect to pay some bills, while paying others multiple times.
- Withdrawal from social activities: If an older adult is beginning to recognize something is wrong, they may be afraid to admit it. It often results in self-isolation. Seniors may drop out of volunteer projects, social clubs, and even skip religious services. They are often embarrassed when they can’t hold up their end of a conversation or remember people’s names.
- Difficulty writing: Verbal skills aren’t the only communication difficulties a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may develop. For some, an early warning sign is trouble writing a letter, a grocery list, or even a check. It is often linked to short-term memory problems common early in the disease.
- Loss of interest: A senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia may appear less empathetic and more apathetic than they previously were. This personality change is caused by both physical and emotional challenges of the disease, not by a change in the senior’s feelings about loved ones.
Protecting a Senior with Dementia
As one of the nation’s largest providers of memory care services for adults with dementia, we understand the struggles family members face. One is protecting their loved one’s pride and self-esteem as the disease progresses. You can learn more about this by visiting “Helping a Senior with Alzheimer’s Maintain Dignity.”
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