As the most prevalent form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects memory function, thinking capacity, and behavior. Sadly, when the condition progresses, it can hinder a person’s ability to complete daily tasks and live independently.
AD is most common among older people (age 65 or older), but in about 5% of cases, it occurs in younger individuals—sometimes as early as in their 30s or 40s. This is what’s known as early-onset or young-onset Alzheimer’s.
If you think you or a loved one might have the condition and is showing an early symptom, Alliance Homecare’s Alzheimer’s care in New York service is here to help. Read on for an overview of the signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
14 Signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease
While there have been some promising advances in preventing and potentially treating AD, medical researchers are still unraveling the complexity of the disease. The exact brain changes that occur during the onset of Alzheimer’s and throughout its progression aren’t crystal-clear.
Some believe the damage begins long before memory and cognitive function issues are outwardly apparent. However, several symptoms and warning signs shouldn’t be ignored, no matter how young you or your loved one are.
The signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Disruptive memory loss
- Difficulty completing common tasks
- Inability to make plans
- Trouble with problem-solving
- Confusion about dates and locations
- Misplacing things
- Loss of direction
- Trouble processing images
- Difficulty with spatial reasoning
- Speaking or writing challenges
- Diminishing decision-making skills
- Mood changes
- Behavioral shifts
- Social isolation
Find details about these potential red flags below, along with guidance on how to know what’s normal versus what’s a cause for concern.
Disruptive Memory Loss
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, memory loss is one of the most common signs something is off. This includes forgetting things that were recently learned or having trouble remembering significant dates. You might notice that your family member keeps asking the same questions over and over or can’t seem to recall recent events.
Individuals of all ages sometimes forget people’s names or miss appointments only to remember them later. Research shows the benefits of puzzles are a great tactic for such forgetfulness. This is normal if it happens once in a while. But when memory lapses occur frequently and disrupt a person’s ability to tend to their responsibilities, it could be a symptom of early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Trouble Completing Common Tasks
Alzheimer’s disease can make it hard to complete everyday tasks, like sending an email, paying a bill, jotting down a grocery list, or cooking dinner. With a busy lifestyle or a demanding job, many people can become too flustered or overwhelmed to tackle simple tasks once in a while. However, if it’s a common occurrence, it might fall into one of the alzheimer’s symptoms.
Inability to Make Plans or Solve Problems
Early-onset dementia can affect a person’s ability to solve problems and make or stick to plans. This might include trouble creating or sticking to a budget after overspending, difficulty following a recipe, or an inability to plan a family event.
For some, young-onset AD may inhibit them from doing certain things altogether. And for others, it might take them substantially longer than it did before. Making occasional blunders with bill-pay or sometimes feeling too burnt out to organize an event is normal. But you should definitely take note if it’s out of character and happens often, as this may be cause for an early diagnosis.
Confusion About Dates and Locations
Misremembering dates, losing track of the season, forgetting ages, and becoming confused about familiar locations are signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s. For many, confusion about dates and locations sets in when plans aren’t happening immediately. This might result in trouble understanding where they are and what they’re doing.
Virtually everyone has gotten the day of the week mixed up at some time or another. And yet, for most people, a simple calendar check is enough to set the record straight. Confusion surrounding dates, seasons, and locations is a cause for concern when it happens often and isn’t quickly sorted out.
An individual facing young-onset Alzheimer’s disease may start misplacing their belongings, forgetting where things go, or putting items in places they don’t usually go. For instance, they might be unable to find their keys, even when they’re hanging in their usual spot. Or they might be unable to find their shoes and accuse others of stealing them.
Misplacing things happens to almost everyone occasionally, if not frequently. But early-onset AD is different than being disorganized or losing track of things once in a while. If someone is unable to figure out where they put something or can’t retrace their steps to find it, it could be a symptom of dementia.
Forgetfulness, trouble recalling information, and confusion about locations can result in loss of direction. A person with early-onset Alzheimer’s could get lost while driving to work, have trouble getting back home while on a walk, or forget why they wandered into the kitchen.
Most people have gotten lost before, whether in the car or on foot. However, forgetting where you live or how to get to work is a cause for concern and could be a sign of AD.
Difficulty with Image Processing and Spatial Reasoning
Vision problems can happen at any age, and on its own, isn’t necessarily a sign of young-onset AD. But when accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a signal of early onset dementia. You might notice that you or your loved one are having difficulty processing images or seeing words clearly. It could also involve spatial reasoning issues, such as trouble judging distances or interpreting sizes.
Speaking or Writing Challenges
A patient living with AD sometimes has a hard time participating in conversations or following along when others are talking. When speaking or writing, they might lose track of what they’re saying, stop in the middle of a sentence and be unable to continue, repeat phrases several times, or struggle with common vocabulary.
An individual can lose their train of thought or have to pause for a moment when a word is “at the tip of their tongue.” This is normal, but when it happens frequently and uncharacteristically, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
Diminishing Decision-Making Skills
There are many potential reasons why someone might have poor judgment or diminishing decision-making skills. For instance, a person might drive recklessly or make a bad choice affecting their personal finances. While these aren’t necessarily signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s, pay close attention if they’re coupled with other symptoms.
Mood and Behavioral Changes
Similarly, mood shifts and behavioral changes can occur for a number of reasons, so it doesn’t automatically indicate AD. However, people living with the condition might become suspicious, confused, anxious, easily upset, or agitated. They may also act out or do things they typically would never do.
Memory problems, frequent confusion, and communication challenges can make it hard to engage with others. Those who are aware of these issues might seclude themselves out of embarrassment or frustration. For others, trouble making plans and remembering dates can lead to social isolation.
Occasionally feeling disinterested in socializing is normal, and withdrawing from friends and family could be a sign of another mental health condition. Still, when social isolation is coupled with other symptoms, it might indicate early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Can Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented?
At this point, the only known risk factor of AD is a family history of the condition, and there are currently no known ways to prevent it. It’s normal to experience memory loss or slight behavior changes but a combination of some of these signs or symptoms should lead to a consultation from a healthcare professional, such as a doctor if you suspect signs of early on set Alzheimer’s. Recent research suggests early detection may lead to better treatment outcomes.
What Is the Treatment for Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for AD, including early-onset Alzheimer’s. However, the right healthcare plan can help individuals retain mental function, level any mood changes, assist in Alzheimer’s communication, and slow down the progression of cognitive decline. This might include medication, exercise, and activities that engage the brain.
At-Home Alzheimer’s Care in New York City
If you or a loved one have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the compassionate team at Alliance Homecare is here to help. Our New York City home care agency was founded by Gregory Solometo, who experienced the effects of AD first-hand during his grandmother’s struggle with the condition.
With the assistance of a home health aide and potentially an in-home nurse, you can keep up with your day-to-day life while living in the comfort of your own home. Alliance caregivers help our clients establish a routine, assist with medications, relieve stress, and provide companionship.
Our home health aides have special training on AD. They have a thorough understanding of the effects of the disease not just on individuals but also their families. We’ll ensure you’re getting all the support you need while keeping you safe and comfortable and working to reduce the risks of memory impairment.
Contact us today to learn more about our in-home services in the New York metro area.