We all misplace or forget things from time to time. And some people just aren’t great at remembering names, even though they recognize faces. It’s typically not anything to worry about. When memory loss begins to impact daily life, however, it might be something more serious. Spouses are often the first to recognize the small signs that something isn’t right with their partner.
Memory loss that impairs a person’s ability to carry on a conversation or stick to their daily routine may indicate an infection, a vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, or some form of dementia. While there are many types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
How Common Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s accounts for as many as 80% of all cases of dementia. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people in this country have Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to reach 14 million by 2050.
While many people know one of the classic signs of Alzheimer’s is forgetfulness, other red flags aren’t as well known. If you are concerned a spouse might be in the early stages of the disease, review this list of symptoms.
Recognizing Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Memory loss: This is the most commonly recognized sign of Alzheimer’s. An adult with the disease may initially have trouble recalling the information or names they’ve most recently learned. It could be a new neighbor’s name or the date of their hair appointment. A spouse might find themselves repeatedly answering the same questions as a result.
- Difficulty communicating: Another change that often occurs in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s is communication problems. A loss of verbal or written communication skills are two examples. Other communication struggles include calling objects by the wrong name and difficulty maintaining a conversation.
- Making mistakes with money: This is a common, but frequently missed, red flag. A person with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s may neglect to pay some bills while paying others several times. They are also more likely to fall victim to a financial scam or make purchases for expensive items they don’t need.
- Change in disposition: If an always happy and kind senior has become ill-tempered or overly suspicious, he or she likely needs further evaluation. While it might be caused by a different struggle, a change in disposition can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
- Avoiding people: When an older adult first begins to suspect something is wrong, they may not want to admit it. Some even try to hide it. Embarrassment or the fear of being “discovered” can cause them to avoid friends and loved ones. They may stop going to religious services or even skip family celebrations.
- Getting lost: Drivers who have Alzheimer’s disease often become lost going to or coming from familiar destinations. It’s one reason physicians suggest people with the disease avoid driving. If a spouse is taking longer to run errands or returns flustered, you might want to have a gentle discussion about it.
Accepting that a spouse may have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia can be difficult. It’s one reason families frequently delay talking about it. While the problem may be caused by another medical condition that mimics Alzheimer’s, such as a urinary tract infection, it’s important to have these concerns evaluated by a physician.
Heritage Memory Care Communities
Heritage is proud to be a leader in dementia care for seniors in Michigan and Indiana. From person-centered care to thoughtfully planned meals, our Specialized Dementia Care Communities are designed to support independence while also keeping residents safe. Call the community nearest you to learn more or schedule a private tour!