If an older family member's memory is not as sharp as it once was, you might be wondering if the person is suffering from Alzheimer's disease or a related disease. While only a qualified health care provider can make an official diagnosis, there are several signs that your family member may have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.
For many people, memory loss is the symptom they most associate with Alzheimer's disease. Short-term memory is affected first. This may include a family member forgetting something that you said yesterday or having difficulty remembering what they ate for lunch earlier today. In the initial stages of Alzheimer's, the person may remember things that happened years ago with clarity. As the disease progresses, their long-term memory will start to go as well. This may mean that they forget important dates, friends' and family members' names, and even their own name.
It is important to not simply brush off the early signs of memory loss, assuming your family member is just being forgetful. Early diagnosis allows your family member to access treatment options, participate in potential clinical trials, and get a home caregiver early on. Along with that, the person can better plan for the future, making decisions that they may be unable to make once their memory loss gets worse, including decisions related to their car should they be unable to care for themselves at a later date.
Loss of Interest
Another sign of Alzheimer's disease is a loss of interest in things that the person used to enjoy doing. This could include no longer enjoying a favorite hobby or no longer wanting to participate in a favorite activity, such as watching a sporting event or attending a club or group they used to enjoy. The person may also no longer enjoy spending time with family and friends and make excuses to no longer participate in these activities.
Mood or Personality Changes
You may notice that your family member is starting to get irritable or easily angry. They may also have an inappropriate or over-the-top reaction to a minor issue or problem. Depression is another mood change that you may see in your family member. If your loved one has started to experience memory loss or other brain function problems, the chemical imbalance caused by Alzheimer's combined with the loss of mental abilities may lead to the person feeling depressed or withdrawn. This might be especially difficult if there has been no diagnosis.
Many people with Alzheimer's disease experience some sort of personality change. While some people will become shy or withdrawn, others experience a personality change in the opposite direction, becoming more outgoing due to a lack of judgment.
If you have noticed any of these changes in your family member, it is important to get an accurate medical diagnosis right away to determine the cause of the problem and the extent of the issue. It is also important for you to get the proper care for your family who has Alzheimer's Disease. This includes making sure that your loved one is not being mistreated by their caregiver and ensuring that your loved one's conservator is someone who has their best interest at heart.
If you are concerned that your family member's current caregiver or a "friend" is taking advantage of or abusing your loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, we can help. Our elder abuse lawyers are here to fight for the rights of your loved one. We can also help with things such as establishing a conservatorship and estate planning. If you have any questions about these issues or anything else related to the legal rights of your family member with Alzheimer's, contact us.