(NewsUSA) - According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to 14 million.
Detecting symptoms of Alzheimer's disease as early as possible can be critical to provide appropriate care and avoid potentially dangerous situations. And family and friends can play a vital role in recognizing and calling attention to these changes in behavior, especially for older adults who live alone.
While celebrating with loved ones this holiday season, Home Instead Senior Care encourages everyone to become more familiar with the symptoms of Alzheimer's, to be more aware so that critical warning signs are not overlooked.
Although many are aware that Alzheimer's disease affects a person's memory, there are several other lesser-known indicators that commonly go unnoticed such as notable changes in mood or personality, difficulty completing familiar tasks, trouble pronouncing words or writing, and increased anxiety.
Lakelyn Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care gerontologist and caregiver advocate, says, "People get wrapped up in the holidays and can miss important signs that a family member needs help - and doesn't even know it." She asks families to be mindful of the following signs that a loved one is struggling:
* Disruption of daily life. Is your loved one easily confused by changes to his or her routine? Are they beginning to forget everyday tasks, such as taking medication, feeding a pet or paying bills?
* Unusual behaviors. Have you noticed they seem unusually agitated or upset? Does it seem like his or her personality has shifted? Do they seem depressed or down?
* Disengaged with family. Is your loved one having a hard time remembering names of familiar family members? Does it look as if his or her mind is going blank during conversations? Are they having trouble keeping up with topics of discussion?
* Impairments in mobility and judgement. Do they seem afraid or unsure when using stairs? Do they hesitate before taking steps or going down ramps? A decline in cognitive ability can also affect the senses, impairing depth perception and hearing.
* Loss of words. Does it seem they are forgetting words for everyday objects, such as toothbrushes, spoons or cups? Are they slow to form sentences or respond to questions?
"It's important that we walk alongside our love ones in the aging process to ensure they are living safe and healthy lives," explains Hogan. "This holiday season, consider the signs that may indicate early-onset or developed Alzheimer's disease and talk to your senior relative or their caregiver about ways to accommodate their symptoms."