Recognizing the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

elderly-old-sad-man.jpgNovember is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to a condition effecting more than five million Americans. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number is expected to almost triple and rise to nearly 14 million by 2050.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive yet irreversible disease that causes a decline in cognitive functions including memory and thinking skills.  Part of raising awareness is also understanding what signs to look for in loved ones.  At times, people may brush off lapses in memory and relate it to aging, but memory problems that disrupt daily life and tasks should always be taken seriously.

Here are five other common signs of Alzheimer’s:
  • Memory Laspes:  One of the most common early-stage symptoms is forgetfulness – especially with newly learned information or important dates and events. Someone with Alzheimer’s may also ask for the same information over and over again.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems: Some people may experience changes in their ability to create and follow a plan. You may notice a loved one taking longer to complete tasks or they may have trouble following even simple directions.
  • Confusion with time or place: People with Alzheimer’s can often lose track of dates or time. Sometimes, they may also have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
  • Misplacing objects and trouble retracing steps: As people forget dates and events they may also have trouble misplacing objects and retracing their steps. A person with Alzheimer's may put things in unusual places – something that can grow more frequent over time.
  • Mood and personality changes: Due to the changes happening in the brain, you may notice a major shift in mood and personality. It’s not uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s to become confused, suspicious or even easily upset especially in places outside of their comfort zone.
It’s not easy to see a loved one’s memory fade but there are a variety of medical professionals who can assist those with Alzheimer’s including speech-language pathologists (SLPs).
“The SLP’s role is not to cure Alzheimer’s, but to facilitate," said Jill Grogg CCC-SLP, clinical educator at the Speech-Language Institute (SLI) and a certified dementia practitioner.  “Many people are not aware of our training, and in the many ways SLPs’ expertise and knowledge can empower this population in all stages.”
SLI’s certified speech-language pathologists can assist individuals with Alzheimer’s from beginning to end stages and also throughout the various levels of its progression. They can help identify strengths and deficits in cognitive, communication, speech, language and swallowing abilities.
Following an evaluation, SLPs create customized treatment plans that help improve quality of life and independence.  They also work with caregivers, providing resources and support to overcome the difficulties that people living with Alzheimer’s can experience in their daily lives.
For more information or to schedule an evaluation at SLI, call 215.780.3150.