Alzheimer’s has propelled into the limelight due to the recent death of legendary college basketball coach, Pat Summit. Summit succumbed to the disease at the age of 64, just five years after she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. While tragic, Summit’s death has ignited an impetrative discussion regarding the disease.
It is advantageous for caretakers and loved ones to be familiar with the ten warning signs of early onset Alzheimer’s.
- Memory Loss: One of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s, especially recently learned information. Memory loss can also lead to forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information, etc.
- Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems: Changes may arise with their ability to develop and follow a plan – either following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
- Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks: A loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s may have trouble completing daily tasks at home at work or at leisure. This can include, driving to a familiar location, managing a budget, etc.
- Confusion with Time or Place: Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time can be another symptom. Sometimes they may even forget where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble Understanding Visual Images: Vision problems can also be a sign. Driving may become an issue due to difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color.
- New Problems with Speaking or Writing: Loved ones with Alzheimer’s may struggle with vocabulary and finding the right word or call things by the wrong name.
- Misplacing Items: Putting things in an unusual spot may also be a red flag. They may lose items quickly and be unable to trace their steps to find the misplaced items.
- Decreased or Poor Judgment: Decreased or poor judgment may occur with decision-making.
- Withdrawing from Social Activities: A loved one with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from social activities, work conversations, hobbies or sports.
- Changes in Mood and Personality: Both the mood and personality of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s can drastically change. They may become easily upset or fearful at arbitrary times.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, the best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with their doctor. Early detection is key and can improve access to medical and support services. Educating ourselves about the warning signs of this cruel disease is the best way to celebrate Pat Summit’s life and honor her legacy!