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Times of India
22 September 2011
By, Monami K. Thakur
Alzheimer's, a fatal degenerative and terminal disease affects millions of people across the globe every year.
Know the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's Know the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
According to the World Health Organization, more than 18 million people suffer from this condition worldwide. More than 50 per cent of these cases are found in developing nations like India and North Africa. From memory loss to difficulty in concentrating, Alzheimer's disrupts daily life and the individual ultimately withdraws from an active social life. The only way to overcome this is by identifying the warning signs and taking adequate preventive measures.

Memory loss affecting daily function:
It is quite normal to misplace one's socks occasionally or forget about some important appointment once in a while. But, if this has become a regular habit, you need to think about your situation more deeply. Memory impairment is a common feature of Alzheimer's that gradually gets worse over time. A person with the disease also frequently forgets things learnt recently and may ask the same information over and over again.

Difficulty in decision making:
Another typical characteristic of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease is frequent changes in judgment or difficulty in decision-making. This may seem like a trifle matter initially but as time progresses, the situation gets worse and the individual may even need to seek medical help.

Mood and personality changes:
People with Alzheimer's also experience rapid mood changes to the extent that they may suddenly get depressed or angry for no apparent reason. Their personality also changes dramatically, much to the distress of their near ones. Such individuals may become extremely confused or even suspicious. However, these changes may vary from individual to individual and the mood swings also do not have any set patterns. Some of these changes can be so drastic that a person sometimes seems to be in complete contrast to the normal behaviours they have exhibited in their previous lives.

Withdrawal from active social life:
As the disease progresses gradually, the effected person tends to withdraw from his or her routine activities and social life, probably due to frustration and embarrassment. Difficulty in remembering minor activities, names and dates makes it hard to complete a favorite task or activity. Hence, it is vital to recognize such signs at the earliest and seek medical interventions. This can help to ward off depression and prolong the quality of life by maintaining a healthy stimulation level both physically and socially.

Problem with speech and language:
Every one faces some kind of speech difficulties once in a while but a patient of Alzheimer's may forget simple words frequently. They have difficulties in joining or following a conversation and often their sentences become difficult to comprehend. Also, they may stop abruptly in between a conversation without having any clear idea on how to continue.

Time or place disorientation:
Confusion with place or time is another characteristic trait seen with Alzheimer's patients. You will often find such patient lose track of dates, seasons and even time. Such patients may sometimes even land up in unknown locations without having any idea of how they got there. Difficulty in concentrating:
Concentrating difficulties may sometimes occur due to inattention, anxiety or lack of sleep. But, a person with Alzheimer's disease may have trouble in completing tasks that they have been doing their entire lives. Such individuals often find it hard to complete regular chores like paying bills or cooking a meal. Frequently misplacing things: You may say that this is quite common and anyone can misplace their room keys or their wallet. But for these patients, such activities become a regular habit. Moreover, they are often seen placing things in inappropriate places like placing their shoes inside the freezer.

Vision problem:
Very often, Alzheimer's cases are seen associated with vision problems. According to a report by the Alzheimer's Society, around 60 percent of all diagnosed cases suffer from visual disturbances. However, unlike normal eye problems, visual disturbances in Alzheimer's are not due to anomalies in the eye. Instead, they are caused due to the inability of the brain to perceive light signals. Some of the common vision problems occurring in these patients include difficulty in distinguishing colour, identifying depth in three dimensional objects and motion blindness.
Trouble solving problems: Some people even face difficulty in solving basic mathematical calculations or following a set plan of work. They may also find it hard to do tasks that require some form of abstract thinking and may take longer time to do tasks they did before.

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