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7 Surprising Symptoms of Alzheimers Disease

7 Surprising Symptoms of Alzheimers Disease

If you ever saw Julianne Moore in the movie “Still Alice” you would agree that she gave a compelling Oscar worthy performance full of empathy and nuance while portraying a 50 something older adult with early Alzheimer’s disease. She plays a famous linguistic professor who begins to detect trouble when she starts being at a loss for words and to get lost in her daily runs.

 

But the average Alzheimer’s patient is more often than not well into their 60s and 70s, and the disease starts making its presence felt a lot slower than what was depicted in the movie. About an estimated eighty-one percent of people who have Alzheimer’s disease are 75 or older. And the disease is estimated to go from about 5 million affected Americans in 2016 to nearly triple that in 2050.

 

In the US an estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. Out of the 5.4 million persons with Alzheimer’s around 200,000 are younger than 65 years. They have what is called younger-onset Alzheimer’s diseases.

 

Are there any early warning symptoms once can keep a look out for? Most of us know that Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain and cognitive ability and memory. But there can be other surprising symptoms of Alzheimer's that can be early indicators of a higher probability of getting the disease later on or much sooner than expected.

 

INABILITY TO TELL RIGHT FROM WRONG

People’s ability to tell right from wrong goes haywire. Behaviors change. Someone who has been honest and forthright all their life might start showing some worrying change in their behavior when it comes to honesty. Even stealing may be involved.

 

An important symptom to look out for is any dramatic change in a person’s behavior as they age. If it is unusual behavior, then it could be a sign of things to come. George Perry, Dean of the Science Faculty at Saint Antonio University and editor of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease explains that FTD or Frontotemporal Dementia, a gradual degradation on a person’s decision making ability, or executive function is often a sign of age-related dementia, which in turn is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

 

AN INCREASE IN FALLING OR TRIPPING ACCIDENTS

Researchers studied the correlation if any between people with Alzheimer’s and or early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and their history of falling. In a study of 125, they tracked how often they tripped or fell, and they studied their brain scans. They found a surprising connection. Balance and cognitive function is adversely affected, hence the increased frequency in tripping and falling.

 

FORGETTING THE FUNCTION OF THINGS

There are many times one forgets where we put our car keys or our mobile phone. We all do this now and then. Does this mean that we have Alzheimer’s disease? Not really. But one day if you start looking at your TV remote control and cannot immediately remember what this black slender object is used for, or when you gaze for a long time at a key, wondering what it is, that’s a sure sign of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Persons with the disease tend to forget what certain everyday things are meant for. The function of certain objects escapes them for the moment. It may come back but momentarily at least they are puzzled. Brain tissue that has deteriorated makes cognitive thinking and analysis difficult and thinking capacity, ability to retrieve information in our brain is compromised. Hence, the sudden inability to process things in our brain, especially regarding everyday objects.

 

EATING BIZARRE THINGS

Alzheimer’s patients or persons with early Alzheimer’s tend to eat more than people their age without the disease. Yet they do not gain weight. Something to do with an unusual increase in their metabolic rate could be keeping the weight down, but it's not a good thing, as it can be a sign of Alzheimer’s  disease.

 

Scientists have yet to figure out why. A supposition is that brain tends to get its messages scrambled and sends mixed signals so such persons to eat more and even bizarre things like paper and other inedible things.

 

INABILITY TO RECOGNIZE SARCASM REGULARLY

According to Katherin Rankin at the University of California in the bay area, Alzheimer’s patients typically have tissue damage in the hippocampus due to frontotemporal disease. A person’s short term memory skills in the posterior hippocampus is adversely affected. Such person’s cannot distinguish the circumstances when someone is being ironic or sarcastic. They take the words and meaning to be literal.

 

Of course we all get it wrong sometimes. Now and then we can miss a sarcastic remark by a family member or a colleague. And we do sometimes confirm that what we said was ‘sarcastic’. Others do too. But if we consistently don’t get the sarcastic element and take everything literally, then it could be a warning sign. Missing sarcasm  repeatedly is a surprising symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

DEPRESSION

People who come down with depression later on in life are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who do not. In a depressed person, certain hormones are released into the brain. The presence of such hormones could trigger the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

This does not however mean that if you have depression after your 50s and 60s, that you will definitely get Alzheimer’s disease. According to a recent study, those who suffer from depression after 50 years are three times as likely to come down with Alzheimer’s than those who don’t have clinical depression.

 

STARING OFF INTO SPACE OFTEN

People with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have a concentration of amyloid plaques in their brain tissue. This is usually a reliable indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. These amyloid plaques in the brain denote nerve tissue damage. People with a concentration of amyloid plaques show marked disability in cognitive thinking, memory skills and thinking ability. Which all translates to people staring off often into space, either trying to remember,  trying to puzzle out something that their brain won’t let them do or retrieve that information from their memory bank. Hence, staring off into space regularly in a detached manner could be a surprising symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.


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