Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that affects each individual differently. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for roughly 80% of all new dementia diagnoses. Each stage of Alzheimer’s introduces symptoms that directly impacts the cognitive and functional abilities of the individual. In the early stage of the disease, symptoms are generally mild and may be difficult to notice. At this stage, the individual may functional independently with the ability to complete all of their own activities of daily living. However, they may begin experiencing frequent memory lapses or the inability to identify familiar words. Friends and family may notice the individual struggling with performing routine tasks or maintaining organization. During a medical examination, doctors may identify problems in memory or concentration.
Common challenges in the Early-Stage of Alzheimer’s include:
- Difficulties with planning or organization
- Difficulties with recalling the right word or name for familiar objects
- Difficulties with performing social or work tasks
- Frequent memory lapses
- Frequently losing or misplacing valuable objects
- Difficulties with retaining new information
- Difficulty following storylines
- Deteriorating sense of direction
Once medical examinations are completed and an Alzheimer’s dementia diagnosis is received, it’s important to optimize the safety and quality of life of the individual. Family, friends, and the care team should provide the individual with support and empathy while preparing for upcoming challenges ahead. Conversations regarding advance directives and preferred future plans of care should take place with the individual, to ensure that their wishes are upheld when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Take the time to carefully plan for comprehensive and holistic care which meets the entire needs of the individual– it’s the best way to honor their life and legacy.