Do you know how to spot the signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s? Memory loss and disorientation are well-known signs of Alzheimer’s disease, but there are many other signs to look out for. Signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s occur between a person’s mid-30’s to mid-’60s.
As your loved one gets older, it’s a good idea to start making note of their behavior. Ask another family member or close friend to also be on the lookout for these lesser-known signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s:
Does your family member tend to wander off? People with early-onset Alzheimer’s wander for a variety of reasons — including boredom, stress, or a desire to do a chore or errand on their own. But regardless of the motive, it’s scary to think of a loved one getting lost. If wandering becomes a habit, create your own identification bracelet or purchase a MedicAlert ID. You can help keep a safe environment by installing a security system, changing the hardware on doorknobs and windows, and building a secure fence around the home.
- Trouble completing familiar tasks
Everyday activities that once were familiar to your loved one may suddenly seem difficult and daunting. Examples include difficulty playing a favorite game, forgetting how to wash hair or brush teeth, or mixing up the steps when cooking a meal or making a cup of tea or coffee. Your loved one may struggle to start the car or locate certain buttons on the dashboard. Getting lost while driving is also a sign of early-onset Alzheimer’s.
- Deteriorating vision
Don’t ignore changes in vision, which may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. Four common visual issues seen in patients with Alzheimer’s include:
- Loss of depth perception
- Reduced peripheral vision
- Difficulty detecting motion
- Trouble recognizing colors
You can test these for visual deficits at home, but it’s also a good idea to keep up with regular visits to the eye doctor.
- Mood swings
While it’s completely normal for anyone to experience a few “off” days, take note if your loved one seems like they aren’t themselves. You might notice one or several of the following behaviors:
Depressive behavior is especially important to look out for. Depression may not be related to Alzheimer’s, but it’s still worth talking to a professional about. Help your family member (and yourself!) cope with these changes in behavior by displaying patience, taking things slow, and creating an easy daily routine.
- Disinterest in social activities
Another sign to be aware of is a lack of interest in social activities. Early-onset Alzheimer patients may show a lack of interest in their work or withdraw from activities they once loved. Take notice if they suddenly don’t want to go to church, meet friends for dinner, or play games as a family.
Keep in mind that the presence of one or more of these signs does not necessarily mean that your loved one may have early-onset Alzheimer’s. However, it’s best to be proactive and be on the lookout for these changes. Your family member is blessed to have your love and support!