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Early Onset Alzheimer’s: Signs and Symptoms

Posted Apr 25 2012 5:57am

You cannot find your keys.  That can happen to anyone.

You forget where you parked your car.  Life is stressful, harried, and we have a lot on our minds most of the time.   A common occurrence.

You are sitting at the kitchen table and staring out the window as the snow falls gently on the ground and try as hard as you might, you cannot remember what season it is. ’Spring?’ you think.  ‘Does it snow in the spring?  For heaven’s sake girl, it doesn’t snow in the spring.  Fall then – it must be fall.  It’s cold in the fall.  That’s it.’

That’s a sign to take seriously.  The inability to recognize or track dates or seasons is one of the first symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs in 5 to 10% of people under the age of 65.  It is not uncommon to see people in their 50′s with signs of early onset Alzheimer’s (EOA) and because Parkinson’s disease can mimic Alzheimer’s in several ways (mood swings/changes, forgetfulness, difficulty with speaking, etc), I thought I’d give a little info on the signs and symptoms of Early Onset Alzheimer’s or EOA, as it’s also known as.

A lack of motivation or sticking to a task can be mistaken at work as laziness when, in fact, EOA could very well be the culprit.  Instead of being properly diagnosed as an EOA patient, the individual suffering with symptoms they have no control over may result in being dismissed from a good job, associated with mental problems, or other misjudgments.  Relationships (especially the loss of intimacy) may also begin to deteriorate when one or both parties do not understand the connection to something greater at fault.

While losing your keys once in a while or forgetting where you parked your care are absolutely normal, misplacing things consistently and not being able to retrace your steps to find them could be a sign of EOA.  Making a bad decision from time to time, missing a payment once a year on utilities, and forgetting a word to describe what you are trying to say – normal.  However, continually having poor decision making abilities, having a hard time holding or having a conversation, or the inability to manage your budget – these are big players in early onset Alzheimer’s and need to not only be taken seriously, but action should be taken for a diagnosis as to why these symptoms are occurring.

Alzheimer’s does not happen overnight, regardless of age.  It takes different degrees of progression, depending on each individual.  A person of any age will experience a few to several symptoms.  Common symptoms are:

  • forgetting information learned recently
  • asking to repeat information over and over again
  • inability to remember without help (notes, family members intervention, etc)
  • trouble following familiar recipes
  • lack of or difficulty in concentration
  • difficulty doing familiar tasks (heating in a microwave, TV controls, etc)
  • taking a walk and losing your way
  • visual images are confusing (difficulty in reading and judging distance)
  • difficulty speaking or being part of a conversation due to forgetfulness when trying to form words
  • misplacing items and inability to retrace steps (not uncommon to accuse others of stealing)
  • judgment decreases in regards to handling money
  • personal hygiene may suffer
  • removal of one’s self from normal activities; becomes more introverted
  •  mood and personality changes may occur (suspicious, depressed, etc)

It is important to remember that a person may be experiencing some of these symptoms and not have any connection to having EOA.  A proper diagnosis needs to be made by a knowledgeable physician.  It is also important to remember that if diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a person may only experience a few of the symptoms listed above while another, several.  Each person is unique and the disease is unique to each person, although similar in many ways.  The best advice when determining whether you or someone you love may be experiencing EOA is to see a physician.

 

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