Alzheimer’s Signs & Symptoms

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease caused by the formation of plaques containing beta amyloid in the brain. 

Many times the signs of Alzheimer’s disease are mistakenly attributed to “old age”.

For as long as I can remember my Mom had an obsession with the mail.  Every single day for decades she would wait for the mail carrier and collect the mail.  It used to drive my Dad nuts!  After all, mail = bills!  We used to joke about it! Suddenly one day she didn’t care about the mail anymore.  The same with the household bills.  Someone who had kept an impeccable notebook of every bill and payment was no longer worried about the bills.  Now some of this could have been chalked up to “old age” or even depression or whatever excuse we may make when we’re unfamiliar with the less common signs of Alzheimer’s. 

The sign that I noticed going back some seven plus years was my Mom, a once very chatty and very friendly woman was shutting down socially.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk to people.  The love of having a conversation with everyone she meets has never left her.  She still loves to talk to people.  She didn’t know what to talk about.  Her world was shrinking and her thoughts were too.  This was a huge red flag to me as it couldn’t be explained away.  Instead she would talk about the same thing over and over again:  my pit bull, Luka.  She would tell people, “we have a pit bull and he is a GOOD DOG”.  To this day she talks about Luka only now she doesn’t remember his name.  Most times this has nothing to do with the ongoing present conversation.  This is common in Alzheimer’s.  Later on, it’s said that Alzheimer’s completely steals the ability to talk.  I remember mentioning the inability to hold a conversation to family members. It was alarming to me. Some of the thoughts were perhaps her impaired hearing was making it difficult. No.  My Mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s and I knew something was wrong. Unless you’re with the person who has Alzheimer’s or dementia often, it’s not easily recognizable at first.  

Later down the road some of the obvious signs were:

Forgetting how to turn the coffee pot on.  The same coffee pot that was used for years.  My Mom a coffee connoisseur, would now sit on the couch and wait for me to wake up instead of turning the coffee on herself.  She doesn’t remember how.

Simple decision making becomes difficult and indecisive. 

Misplacing things (and panicking not only because they can’t remember where, but not knowing how to go about looking for the misplaced item). 

Forgetting what day, month, year, or season it is.  Needing a calendar!

Hygiene:  all of a sudden someone “forgets to shower or they think they just did or simply doesn’t want to”.  

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s may enable the patient to seek treatment sooner. 

Caregivers, take care of yourself first.  This disease…not the person….will wear you down like no other.  Treasure the time you have with your loved one, know when you need a break, don’t feel guilty about that break, and don’t worry so much about the small stuff.

Thanks for reading.
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8 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s Signs & Symptoms

  1. Invisibly Me Reply

    It’s so hard with symptoms because at the early stages at least you don’t know whether to laugh it off or think it’s a normal kind of ‘one of those things’. I can only imagine how difficult it’s been for you, and your mother too. My own mum has had some ‘odd’ slips with things and it’s disconcerting but I tell myself she’s still very ‘with it’ (for lack of a better word) in general most of the time. This is a fantastic post. I think more awareness around the signs and symptoms is needed so you’ve done brilliantly with this.
    Caz xx

  2. Jen Burris Reply

    I can’t imagine how difficult that must be for bot of you. It’s such a frightening thing to think about. I am so glad your sweet mom has you to help her through this. You are amazing, caring for her, for your furbabies and also taking care of yourself. Keep going strong! You are so wonderful! Such an inspiration.

  3. Barb Chalmers Reply

    Karen, you are amazing. I love your outlook and how to stress, as a caregiver, you need to take care of you, because if you don’t, no one will. Hugs my friend. My husbands is still progressing, but slower, so giving us valuable time. He is recently having trouble with his words, and how to say something he knows as well as his name. It is hard to watch, and sometimes even harder to live. You have my admiration. Love you, my friend.

    • Pug You MS Post authorReply

      I’m so sorry to hear this Barb. It’s so hard….love and big hugs. And, yes, we MUST take care of ourselves. Thank you for reading.

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