What You Should Know About Alzheimer's Disease

Personal care service, Care at home, Derby

Most people today know someone who has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common cause of dementia. affecting between 50 and 75 per cent of those diagnosed.

Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia affecting up to 20 per cent of those diagnosed, frontotemporal dementia affecting 2 per cent and dementia with Lewy bodies between 10 and 15 per cent.

There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.

- 209,600 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.

- 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.

- 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.

- There are over 42,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.

- More than 25,000 people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK are affected.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Applying the word “Alzheimer’s” to someone close to you can be uncomfortable, even if the signs, or symptoms, have been apparent for some time. It’s much easier to gloss over strange behaviour: “Oh, Mom’s just getting older,” or to rationalize: “Well, we all forget things sometimes.”

Only a qualified physician can conclude with high certainty that a living person has Alzheimer’s disease. But the following eight symptoms are strongly associated with the disease. If your loved one is displaying these symptoms, it would be wise to seek medical evaluation.

1. Memory Lapses

  • Does the person ask repetitive questions or retell stories within minutes of the first mention?

  • Does he or she forget the names of recent acquaintances or younger family members, such as grandchildren?

  • Are memory lapses growing progressively worse (such as affecting information that was previously very well known)?

  • Are the lapses happening more frequently (several times a day or within short periods of time)?

  • Is this forgetfulness unusual for the person (for example, sudden memory lapses in someone who took pride in never needing grocery lists or an address book)?

Everyone forgets some things sometimes. But your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease if you notice these more significant memory lapses.

Having problems with memory is the first and foremost symptom noticed. It’s a typical Alzheimer’s symptom to forget things learned recently (such as the answer to a question, an intention to do something or a new acquaintance) but to still be able to remember things from the remote past (such as events or people from childhood — sometimes with explicit detail). In time, even long-term memories will be affected. But by that point, other Alzheimer’s symptoms will have appeared.

2. Confusion Over Words

  • Does the person have difficulty finding the “right” word when they're speaking?

  • Does the person forget or substitute words for everyday things (such as “the cooking thingamajig” for a cooking pot or “hair fixer” for comb)?

Of course it’s normal for anyone to occasionally “blank” on a word, especially words not often used. But it’s considered a red flag for Alzheimer’s if this happens with growing frequency and if the needed words are simple or commonplace ones.

This can be a very frustrating experience for the speaker. He or she might stall during a conversation, fixating on finding a particular word, or replace the right word with another word. This substitute could be similar enough that you could guess at the meaning (“hair dryer” instead of “hairdresser”), especially early on in the disease process. Or it could be completely different (“bank” instead of “hairdresser”) or nonsensical (“hairydoo”).

3. Marked Changes in Mood or Personality

  • Has the person who’s usually assertive become more subdued (or vice versa)? Has the person who’s reserved become less inhibited (or vice versa)?

  • Does he or she withdraw, even from family and friends, perhaps in response to problems with memory or communication?

  • Has the person developed mood swings, anxiety, or frustration, especially in connection with embarrassing memory lapses or noticeable communication problems?

  • Has he or she developed uncharacteristic fears of new or unknown environments or situations, or developed a distrust of others, whether strangers or familiar people?

  • Do you see signs of depression (including changes in sleep, appetite, mood)?

Mood shifts are a difficult sign to link definitively to Alzheimer’s because age and any medical condition may spark changes in someone’s mood, personality or behaviour. But in combination with other Alzheimer’s symptoms, mood changes such as those described above may contribute to a suspicion of the disease.

A person with Alzheimer’s may also become restless and/or aggressive, but usually in later stages of the disease.

4. Trouble with Abstract Thinking

  • How well does the person handle relatively simple mathematical tasks, such as balancing a cheque book?

  • Does the person have trouble paying bills or keeping finances in order, tasks he previously had no problem completing?

  • Does he or she have trouble following along with a discussion, understanding an explanation, or following instructions?

Abstract thinking becomes increasingly challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s, especially if the topic is complex or if the reasoning is sequential or related to cause and effect.

5. Difficulty Completing Familiar Activities

  • Has the person begun to have trouble preparing meals?

  • Is the person less engaged in a hobby that once absorbed her (bridge, painting, crossword puzzles)?

  • Does he or she stop in the middle of a project, such as baking or making a repair, and fail to complete it?

  • Has the person stopped using a particular talent or skill that once gave her pleasure (sewing, singing, playing the piano)?

Activities with various different steps, however routine and familiar, can become difficult to complete for a person with Alzheimer’s. Your loved one might become distracted or lose track of where he or she is in the process, feeling confused. Or the person might just lose interest altogether and leave a project unfinished.

Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia is especially suspect when the difficult or abandoned activity is something the person formerly delighted in and excelled at, or used to engage in frequently.

6. Disorientation

  • Has the person begun to be disoriented in new or unfamiliar environments (such as a hospital or airport), asking where he or she is, how he or she got there, or how to get back to a place that’s recognizable?

  • Has the person become disoriented in an environment she knows well?

  • Does the person wander off and get lost in public (or get lost when driving or after parking)?

  • Does he or she lose track of the time, day, month, or year? For example, after being reminded about a future doctor’s appointment over the phone, she may start getting ready for the appointment right away. Or they may have trouble keeping appointments and remembering other events or commitments.

These examples of disorientation are all typical Alzheimer’s symptoms, more so in later stages of the disease but sometimes early on as well.

7. Misplacing Items

  • Does the person “lose” items often?

  • Do these items turn up in unusual places (such as finding a wallet in the freezer)?

Losing track of glasses, keys, and papers happens to most adults sometimes, whether due to age or just a busy lifestyle. However, it may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s if this behaviour escalates and if items are sometimes stored in inappropriate or unusual places, and the person doesn’t remember having put them there.

8. Poor or Impaired Judgment

  • Has the person recently made questionable decisions about money management?

  • Has he or she made odd choices regarding self-care (such as dressing inappropriately for the weather or neglecting to bathe)?

  • Is it hard for the person to plan ahead (for example, figuring out what groceries are needed or where to spend a holiday)?

Difficulty with decision-making can be related to other possible symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as lapses in memory, personality changes, and trouble with abstract thinking. Inappropriate choices are an especially worrisome sign, as your loved one may make unsound decisions about his safety, health or finances.

Many of these Alzheimer’s symptoms go unnoticed for a long time. That’s because they’re often subtle or well concealed by the person (or a spouse), who may be understandably freaked out by the changes they're noticing in behaviour. Some patterns of behaviour take time to become obvious.

If you suspect Alzheimer’s, keep track of what you’re noticing. Ask others who know your loved one what they think. Encourage the person to see a doctor.

What Support can The GP and The Practice Team Offer?

As well as an annual review, GPs and the practice team (for example, nurses and healthcare assistants) can offer a range of support to a person with dementia and to those caring for them, including:

  • advice on how to prevent illness and how to maintain fitness

  • medical advice and treatment

  • support with managing any other conditions the person may have, for example diabetes, high blood pressure, or Parkinson’s disease

  • referrals to specialist help and services, such as:

  • talking therapies with a counsellor, or help to look after their mental health

  • a gym or physiotherapist to help with fitness and movement

  • a speech and language therapist to help with communication.

Some practices have Social prescribers (also known as ‘link workers’) who can recommend local support in the community. They can suggest local services that will help the person to manage long-term or complex conditions, and that can help them feel less isolated in the community.

Where can I get more support?

Whether you're already receiving support and you feel you need some more, you don't currently feel supported or you would like to meet people who are going through a similar experience, local support groups can make a real difference.

  • Memory cafés offer information and support in an informal setting. They allow you to meet up with others with dementia. You can attend with your carer and there are sometimes professional carers available to talk to in confidence.

  • Creative workshops such as arts and crafts or music workshops allow you to continue doing the hobbies you enjoy or learn new ones while meeting new people.

  • Specialist support groups can put you in contact with others so that you can talk about how you're feeling, and give advice on what to expect in the future.

How Can Independent Living Support You?

Independent Living is a small, respectful and responsive home care service provider delivering quality, person-centred care in the local area. we believe every individual should have the option to stay at home in a familiar environment if they so wish, no matter their health condition or lifestyle needs. We will strive to maintain your everyday routines, hobbies and interests essential for good mental health and wellbeing.

We aim to make a positive impact on those we support, enhancing their lives. Our highly trained staff provide non-pressurised support via visits which last a minimum of one-hour. This ensures that we can provide quality care without the need to rush, enabling Care Givers to spend that little bit of extra time with you.

For more information on how we could support you or your loved one, contact us on 01332 799292 or alternatively send us an email

Homecare Derby, Homecare Shardlow, Homecare Agency, Homecare Servcie

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