The most common and apparent symptom of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is memory loss. However, there are some cases when loved ones notice signs that appear before memory loss.
If your loved one has no apparent signs of memory loss, it doesn’t mean that Alzheimer’s can be disregarded as a possibility. Let’s dice deeper into the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s without memory loss, and which steps to take after.
Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
The Alzheimer’s Association mentioned additional early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s that families should watch out for.
- Difficulties in planning or solving problems
- Alterations in mood and personality
- Bewilderment or uncertainty with place or time
- Diminished or poor judgment
- Struggles in finishing familiar tasks
- Misplacing belongings and losing the capability to retrace steps to find those items
- Troubles with words
- Difficulties in understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- Leaving or avoiding work and other activities
Seeing signs of one or more of the above doesn’t necessarily mean that your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, but it would be a good reason to consult a doctor. These warning signs could be signs of other medical conditions too, and those may be treatable.
Conversation About Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis
When family members observe potential warning signs, it’s very important to have a conversation about Alzheimer’s. Some may be reluctant to start the discussion because the topic is difficult to talk about.
A survey found that most Americans would be concerned about offending a member of their family or ruining their relationship if they try to approach the person about the signs that they observed.
Some actually prefer to wait until the symptoms are worse before they would bring up the subject. Some even said that they would never bring the subject up at all even if they are concerned for their family member.
The reasons why most avoid these kinds of conversations are anxiety, lack of awareness, fear, denial, and difficulty having conversations about health problems, specifically with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. This is so because of the stigma and perceptions attached with the disease.
Tips That May Help
These conversations are difficult to initiate so the Alzheimer’s Association provided six tips on how to talk about the signs and diagnosis with your loved one who may be experiencing the mentioned symptoms.
First, anticipate pauses or intervals in self-awareness because it’s difficult for family members to notice the signs themselves. Then have the conversation as early as you can. Next, volunteer your companionship and support like promising to accompany the person on their doctor’s appointment.
Also practice conversation starters like asking them if they want you to say something if you notice changes in their behavior that worries you. Get ready for the conversation to not go as planned so you can regroup and try once more at a later time.
Lastly, determine who is best suited to have the conversation with. It could be a friend, specific family member, or a trusted advisor.
The goal of such conversations is to facilitate an early diagnosis whether signs of memory loss are present or not. This will help the family members to have access to effective medical and lifestyle interventions and much better chances of preparing for the future.