As we step into Alzheimer's Awareness Month this September, it's essential to shed light on the early detection and understanding of Alzheimer's disease. This degenerative neurological disorder affects millions of individuals worldwide, impacting not only the individuals diagnosed but also their families and caregivers. By recognising the signs of Alzheimer's disease, we can promote early intervention, better care, and improved quality of life for those affected.
In 2019, a report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society revealed approximately 900,000 individuals were living with dementia in the UK. Shockingly, this number is anticipated to surge to 1.6 million by 2040 .
Below are some of the main warning signs to look out for:
Memory Loss Disruption:
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's disease is the disruption of short-term memory. Individuals may experience difficulties in recalling recent events, conversations, or appointments. Forgetting important dates or repeatedly asking the same questions could be indicative of the disease's onset.
Challenges in Problem-Solving:
Alzheimer's disease can hinder an individual's ability to solve problems or make decisions. Tasks that were once routine, such as managing finances or following a recipe, may become increasingly difficult. This can lead to frustration and a decline in overall cognitive function.
Language and Communication Difficulties:
Language-related signs include struggling to find the right words during conversations, repeating statements, or having trouble following and participating in discussions. These challenges can lead to social withdrawal and feelings of isolation.
Disorientation and Confusion:
Individuals with Alzheimer's disease often experience disorientation in familiar places and times. They may lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time, making it challenging to organize daily activities and maintain a sense of routine.
Impaired Judgment and Decision-Making:
A noticeable shift in judgment and decision-making can also be a sign of Alzheimer's disease. This might manifest as poor grooming habits, neglecting personal hygiene, or exhibiting inappropriate behaviours in social situations.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks:
Tasks that were once routine and familiar may become increasingly challenging. This could involve difficulties in managing household chores, operating familiar appliances, or handling personal care tasks.
A common symptom is putting objects in unusual places and then struggling to locate them later. This goes beyond the occasional misplaced item and may involve putting things in inappropriate locations, such as putting keys in the refrigerator.
Changes in Mood and Personality:
Alzheimer's can lead to shifts in mood, personality, and behaviour. Individuals may become irritable, anxious, depressed, or exhibit uncharacteristic mood swings. Friends and family members might notice these changes even before the affected individual does.
During Alzheimer's Awareness Month, let's unite in our mission to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of this intricate disease. Recognizing these indicators is the first step toward enabling early intervention, which in turn leads to timely medical care, improved management strategies, and crucial support for both individuals and their families. With a global population that's growing older, Alzheimer's disease presents one of the most significant healthcare challenges. As part of our technology roadmap, Occuity is committed to harnessing our innovations for a device that facilitates screening in non-clinical settings like pharmacies and care homes, aiming to detect the early signs of Alzheimer's.