What Are the Signs of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?

Detecting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in its early stages can significantly alter treatment outcomes, offering individuals and families a chance at better management and understanding. But what exactly are the signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and how can you recognize them?

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What Are the Signs of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?

Early-onset AD typically presents itself between the ages of 30 and 60. While memory loss is often the most commonly associated symptom, it’s crucial to recognize that early-onset AD can manifest in various ways. Here are some key signs to watch for:

1. Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life

Unlike typical forgetfulness associated with aging, early-onset AD often involves significant memory problems. This includes forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information repeatedly, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids like electronic devices or reminder notes.

2. Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They might struggle with following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks at Home, at Work, or at Leisure

People with early-onset AD often find it hard to complete daily tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

4. Confusion with Time or Place

People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

6. New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name.

7. Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

8. Decreased or Poor Judgment

Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

9. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

10. Changes in Mood and Personality

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

Identifying and Addressing Early-Onset Alzheimer’s

Recognizing these signs early on is crucial for managing the disease effectively. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive assessment. Early diagnosis provides the best chance for treatment to slow the progression of symptoms, manage behavior changes, and maintain independence longer.