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4 early signs of Alzheimer’s disease you must look out for in elderly family members

Updated on:21 September 2020, 17:46pm IST
While changes in memory are a common problem in the elderly, looking out for these early signs of Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one can make the difference.
Dr Manvir Bhatia
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early signs of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease cannot be cured, but timely diagnosis can help you manage it better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Ageing brings with it a whole bunch of health concerns that keep growing as time passes. Loss of memory and related cognitive losses are some of the most prominent problems that people face at an old age. While it has a lot to do with age, some  aspects that affect a person’s memory are related to their lifestyle.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease which affects thinking, behaviour of a person, and their memory. Unfortunately, this disease worsens over time. However, not all memory losses are dementia or Alzheimer’s—and one has to look for specific symptoms to understand what exactly the situation is and seek timely medical intervention.

While the rates are quite high in India with over 4 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, people are not very aware of these diseases. The numbers are estimated to expand in the next few year to over 7.5 million people suffering from the problem alone in India. This disease grows over time and the onset is much before the signs actually appear. The situation is irreversible as it causes damage to the brain cells.

But the early detection or Alzeihmer’s can help people manage this problem better.  Here are few early signs of Alzheimer’s that one needs to be mindful of in elderly family members and consult a doctor:

1. Challenges in problem solving and planning
People with developing Alzheimer’s are often seen to face trouble with following plans or a regular routine, and take longer than before to complete any task. While it is not the only symptom, but it is one of the major signs to look out for.

early signs of Alzheimer’s
Get some good sleep to keep your brain sharp! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Memory loss
This is something that happens normally with everyone to some extent. However, if it starts to affect the daily life of an individual, then there is sure something to worry about. This might include forgetting names, dates, events and important tasks.

3. Confusion of time, place and date
People with Alzheimer’s are often found to lose track of date, time, season etc. they might even forget where they are and what made them come to that place. This is an alarming situation but needs care and support of family and friends.

early signs of Alzheimer’s
Do you know, women suffer more from Alzheimer’s? Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

4. Withdrawal from social activities and work
Holding on to a conversation at times becomes a challenge for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s. This results into their withdrawal from hobbies, relations, and social engagement.

It is quite difficult for a lay man to recognise a disease like Alzheimer’s. However, one must never overlook memory loss or problem with managing their daily tasks. Seeking immediate medical attention is extremely important to ensure minimal loss. With Alzheimer’s the help needs to come from outside, because an individual might not realise their behavioural changes or seek timely medical attention.

early signs of Alzheimer’s
Healthy lifestyle could help offset risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

This is how you can seek help for Alzeihmer’s during the pandemic
A majority of people seem to have ignored or postponed their medical checkups due to the pandemic. However Alzheimer’s or memory problems are not to be taken lightly and one should look for tele-consultation options with doctors in cases where a physical checkup is not possible.

Dr Manvir Bhatia Dr Manvir Bhatia

Dr Manvir Bhatia is a consultant at the Neurology department of Fortis Escorts Hospital. He is also patron of SeekMed, a telemedicine platform.