One concept I’ve learned in my experience with Alzheimer’s patients is the importance of combining these two words: knowledge and preparation. Simply put, the more you know about Alzheimer’s, the better prepared you’ll be to deal with what might happen and thus be able to handle situations better.
On most, if not all, Alzheimer’s organizations’ websites, there’s a list of about 10 common symptoms that surface during the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Everyone should be familiar with these, but especially those who have a loved one going through this stage. I won’t review these in detail here, but you can find the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association website. In general, there are problems with memory, planning, judgment, confusion, orientation, completing tasks, misplacing items, mood or personality, social withdrawal, and other issues. More details and examples are provided on their website.
I’ve been in an Alzheimer’s support group for 13 years, and I’ve seen a number of newbies, who recently had a loved one diagnosed, come to their first meeting with a total “deer in the headlights” look. They had no idea how to process what was happening, much less what to do or expect. If they knew and understood the common symptoms mentioned above, they would be better prepared to deal with it.
Of course, each patient will present with these symptoms differently to some extent, whether with respect to the severity, the time course, or the sequence of onset. Everyone is different.
The items on this list do not encompass all the possible changes. Especially as the disease progresses, these and other symptoms will manifest themselves in different ways. Thus, you also need to be prepared for the unexpected because strange things will happen, and you don’t want to go off the deep end when they do.
Learn what to expect to the degree possible so you can be tolerant and understanding when they do happen. Forewarned is forearmed!