Today marks World Alzheimer’s Day, an event acknowledged by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) every September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. The day is part of World Alzheimer’s Month, an international event launched in 2012.
Research by the ADI found that two out of every three people globally believe there is little or no understanding of dementia in their countries. In the UK, around 850,000 people currently have dementia, with the figure estimated to rise to 1.4 million by 2040.
How to spot symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain functions. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 per cent of those diagnosed.
Here is a list provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that helps identify 10 early warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. If you notice any of them, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease is forgetting recently learned information. This can be a sign in the earlier stages of the disease. Others include asking the same question over and over, forgetting dates and events, and becoming increasingly reliant on memory aids.
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people living with dementia may experience difficulty in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. This could be with a familiar cooking recipe or paying the monthly bills.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks
People living with Alzheimer’s may often find completing daily tasks a challenge. This can include doing the weekly shopping, remembering rules to a game, or driving to a familiar location
Confusion with time or place
Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time is a common sign for people living with Alzheimer’s.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. There can also be trouble when judging distance or determining the colour of items.
New problems with words in speaking or writing
Having problems with following or joining a conversation is a common sign of Alzheimer’s. This could involve struggling with vocabulary, stopping mid-conversation, and repeating themselves.
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
Alzheimer’s disease may cause a person to put things in unusual places, and be unable to go back over their steps to find the items again. The disease can also cause people to accuse others of stealing, especially when it progresses.
Decrease or poor judgement
Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s may experience changes in their judgement or decision making. This could involve their attention to personal grooming and hygiene, and judgement with their money.
Withdrawal from work or social activities
Alzheimer’s disease may cause withdrawal from hobbies, social activities and other engagements. This can be a result of the individual’s change in being able to hold or follow a conversation.
Changes in mood and personality
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in their mood and personality. Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious can be changes witnessed in the individual.
How to get support
If you notice one or more of the signs in yourself or another person, it is important to take action to figure out what’s going on. Schedule an appointment with your local GP, and with early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide relief of symptoms and help to maintain a level of independence for longer.
If you are worried about yourself or a friend and family member you can talk with a dementia expert via the Alzheimer’s Society Support Line at 0333 150 3456.
If you speak Welsh, they have a Welsh-speaking support line on 03300 947 400.
Other helplines and support
Here are other organisations that may be able to provide support help and support for people affected by dementia.
Samaritans: Call 116 123 or email [email protected] - Open 24 hours, 365 days a year
Age UK: Call 0800 169 2081 - Open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year
Dementia UK: Call 0800 888 66 78 or email [email protected]
Mind: Call 0300 123 3393, email [email protected] or text 86463
Dementia Talking Point is an online community for people with dementia, their family, friends and carers. It's a safe place to ask questions, share your experiences and get advice and support.