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Published on: February 11, 2015
by Alana Marie Burke for NewsMax:
Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can help with early detection, increased safety and quality of life.
The National Institute of Aging describes Alzheimer’s disease as an ‘irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.”
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s evolve as the disease progresses from mild, to moderate and eventually to severe after which profound brain degeneration creates complete dependence for care and complete memory and communication loss.
Here are six symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease that women should never ignore:
1. Memory loss in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s can present in ways that are easy to dismiss as the result of fatigue, lifestyle chaos, lack of sleep or other life stresses. For example, as people age, it is common to forget small details, a person’s name or a shopping list item. With Alzheimer’s however, a key aspect of memory loss involves forgetting what just happened, or what was just said. This short-term memory loss can result in the person repeating something they have already said.
2. Disorientation can be a frightening early symptom in which a person suddenly becomes lost in familiar environments. As the disease progresses, this can also result in the illogical placement of items, such as a hairbrush in the refrigerator.
3. Everyday tasks that used to be quick and easy may become more difficult and time consuming. For example, paying bills, making a grocery list and getting ready for work.
4. Confusion over simple communication and language is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, struggling to find the right word for common household items and having to substitute what the item does for the name of the item. “Fork” might be described as “that thing I eat with.”
5. Changes in personality and behavior. Unexplained rapid mood swings can be a symptom of other diseases but are also a hallmark symptom of early Alzheimer’s. The Mayo Clinic adds depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, irritability, aggressiveness, and mistrust of others to this category of symptoms.
6. Losing interest in activities that used to be important. Social withdrawal can occur because of confusion and distress over the repercussions of early symptoms. A lack of focus and motivation to engage with family, friends and previous hobbies can lead to isolation and prevent an early diagnosis.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses from mild to moderate and eventually severe, the intensity of symptoms increases exponentially. In the moderate stage, there is significant memory loss and confusion, an inability to learn new things and a degeneration of coping skills. By the severe stage, a person with Alzheimer’s can no longer communicate, may lose control of bodily functions and even experience seizures.
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