There is a misconception that Alzheimer's is untreatable. While a cure has not yet been developed, there are medications and other treatment strategies that may help a person stay independent for a while longer and relieve some of the symptoms of the disease. The sooner you recognize the warning signs, the sooner you can get treatment and take steps to protect yourself or your loved one.
Here are some of the signs to watch for:
1. Memory Loss
Loss of memory is a natural part of the aging process. While it can be irritating, it is not necessarily a sign of Alzheimer's. However, if it becomes a consistent problem that interferes with day-to-day life, it could be an indication of the disease. Continuing difficulty remembering names, words, directions, locations, dates and more may mean that it is time to see a medical professional. People with Alzheimer's may forget where things are, or where to put things. They may put items in unusual places. They may get lost or forget where they are, even inside their own homes.
2. Trouble Concentrating
People with Alzheimer's may have difficulty focusing on tasks. They may have a hard time following written or verbal instructions, even for things they have done many times before. They may have trouble participating in conversations.
3. Vision Changes
Alzheimer's may come with loss or blurriness in vision. Reading may become difficult. It may become hard to judge distances or distinguish between colors. This can make driving, bicycling and even walking more dangerous than ever.
4. Personality Changes
Alzheimer's often comes with dramatic mood and personality changes. A person who is usually happy may become irritable and even angry. Depression is also a common symptom. In some situations, a person may become fearful or suspicious of others.
5. Social Withdrawal
People experiencing the symptoms of Alzheimer's often have trouble processing what is happening to them. It is human nature not to admit weakness. Instead of recognizing that something is wrong, people may simply try to adapt to the early signs of Alzheimer's. To deal with memory loss, trouble concentrating, personality changes and other symptoms, they may cut down on work. They may stop doing hobbies. They may try to avoid conversations and just watch television or sleep instead.
Look Beyond Medical Treatment
Medical care is certainly the priority, but there are other steps that should be taken. While the individual still has the legal capacity to do so, he or she should create or update wills, trusts and other estate planning documents. If the individual is ultimately diagnosed with Alzheimer's, nursing home care may be necessary in the future.
Nursing home planning and Medicaid planning can begin now with the help of an experienced elder law attorney. At Wright Abshire, Attorneys, we can help you put the necessary protections and plans in place.