Lesser-Known First Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
I will never forget the day I was moving into a new apartment and my mom sat on the living room floor with her jacket on and her purse in her lap while everyone moved boxes and furniture around her.
My mom had always been a social butterfly who loved to plan and organize things. I couldn't understand why she was just sitting there on the floor, not doing anything to help. I was even more confused when she later accused everyone of ignoring her and excluding her from what we were doing.
She had been the one ignoring us! And she had been excluding herself by not getting involved or helping me unpack!
At the time, my mom had been experiencing some short-term memory loss that was concerning my sister and me.
We noticed that she would repeatedly ask the same questions or tell the same stories in short periods of time. She would also forget information we had just told her, such as what shift I was working that week or what time my sister was coming to pick her up.
We became concerned and suggested that she see her doctor about it, but neither one of us connected her memory loss with her odd social behavior.
What I didn't realize at the time was that different social behavior or changes in personality can be another early sign of Alzheimer's.
My mom, who had always been a chatty Cathy, had become socially withdrawn because she no longer knew how to participate in a conversation. She had been forgetting the words for things and could no longer keep up when several people were talking with one another. She also didn’t know how to help with the moving process because there was so much going on at once that she couldn't keep up.
Lesser-known first signs of Alzheimer's
My mom also had problems with her eyesight that I would have never attributed to Alzheimer's. She couldn't see things that were right in front of her, such as her glasses on the kitchen counter or the TV remote on the end table.
She would be looking for these items and I would tell her where they were, but she still couldn't find them. She would tap her hands all along the countertop, feeling for her glasses because she couldn't see them.
She would also reach for the doorknob on the wrong side of the door or reach for the light switch above or below the actual switch. It was almost as if she was wearing glasses that gave her tunnel vision and distorted the images of things around her.
I later learned that this is also common with Alzheimer's because the disease affects one's depth perception and spatial awareness. This is because the brain interprets what the eyes see and when this part of the brain is damaged by the disease, it results in vision problems like my mom was experiencing.Before her Alzheimer's diagnosisBefore my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I never knew that these symptoms could be a sign of the disease. I would have never put them all together to determine that she had Alzheimer's. It's important to understand the lesser-known signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's to aid in early diagnosis.
Are you a male caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease?