Differentiating Alzheimer’s from Old Age; Signs You Should Look Out For
Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent type of dementia. The disease is gradual, starting with mild memory loss and potentially progressing to the loss of communication and environmental awareness. As you can observe, the usual signs of Alzheimer’s can easily be confused with the inevitable old age. So how can we discern the difference between the two?
With the help of Doctor Kre, a board certified Family Medicine Physician specializing in what’s important to you, we can list down the symptoms that can help you identify Alzheimer’s from Old Age. In today’s one-on-one session of “Telehealth”, she’ll be discussing the 6 signs you may have Alzheimer’s (Dementia).
- Confusion with Time and/or Places – Most of us have probably experienced, at least once or twice, forgetting the day today. It’s like when we ask a friend “What day is it today?” and when they answer, we remember. Alzheimer’s is when someone forgets where they are or how they got there. An example can be when the person with dementia will wake up thinking that they’re in the year 1960s when in reality, it’s already 2023. These are also why some people end up missing as they aren’t sure why they ended up there in the first place. Luckily, with the evolution of technology, we can install a bracelet that can monitor or track where that person is at all times.
- Vision Problems – This symptom can also be seen as normal in some people. The difference though is that normally when you experience vision problems, you experience a sort of film that is somewhat cloudy and blurry over your eyes. With Alzheimer’s, their judgement can also be affected. Some people with Alzheimer’s have difficulties in determining color and contrast so they can sometimes dress up in colors that don’t match or look like they’re in the 1990s.
- Difficulties with Words – With old age, people tend to forget words and remember them back randomly. But with people with Alzheimer’s they tend to experience much more confusion with words when they’re speaking, reading or writing. They sometimes space out and forget what they were saying or what they’re even talking about. They also have trouble telling the time when you ask them which is not normal. where they put their things. You’ll usually find those things in unusual places like getting their keys from the refrigerator and the likes.
- Forgetting their stuff in unusual places – With normal people, situations like these happen once in a while, they’ll ask themselves “Where did I put my keys?” and they try to retrace their steps in order to find what they are missing. But with people with Alzheimer’s they leave their things and forget about them. You’ll usually find those things in unusual places like finding their shoes from the refrigerator and the likes.
- Agitation – People with Alzheimer’s experience agitation a lot. They tend to withdraw themselves from conversations and have frequent mood swings. Sometimes they keep things to themselves and that affects their health a lot. They don’t usually tell you when they’re hurting so its best to keep an eye out for them and observe any pain they might be feeling.
- Withdrawal from Social Work and Activities – This sign can be easily seen especially when the person you know enjoys social gatherings and activities. Things like these are why people say that depression comes hand in hand with Alzheimer’s as this can also be a symptom of depression. What’s normal is that sometimes we want to sit things out but it’s unusual to randomly become recluse.
Old age is inevitable and so we must always take care of ourselves in order to live a very long life. Experts suggest that more than 6 million Americans, 65 and older, may have Alzheimer’s. What age should you start looking for caution signs? Really, you can start looking for signs at 60 years old, which is still pretty young, but some people who are 60, 65, and 70 years old have Alzheimer’s. If someone has had a stroke, a heart attack, or has had diabetes for a long time, they may also have what is known as vascular dementia.
Dr. Kre Johnson is a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician
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Other References: Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. (n.d.). National Institute on Aging.