The Physical Symptoms of Alzheimer’sAlzheimer's, Dementia & Memory Care | June 2, 2015
Memory loss is probably the most common symptom people think of when they hear the words “Alzheimer’s disease.” Or, effects like confusion and agitation may come to mind. However, some physical symptoms are also associated with Alzheimer’s disease – sometimes even before the mental symptoms appear.
While some of the physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s may show up early in some, in others these effects may not occur until the middle stages or later stages of the disease. No two patients generally show the same types of physical changes, but one thing is clear: as the physical symptoms increase, the care needed can become more challenging and time-consuming for the caregiver.
Common Alzheimer’s Physical Symptoms
Some of the physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
- Mobility issues: Your loved one may begin having problems with coordination and will need to use a walker or cane to avoid a fall. You may notice rigid muscles or tremors, too.
- Repeating the same action: Repetitive behaviors like opening and closing a drawer, continually checking that a door is locked, or filling a pet’s food bowl over and over again are all symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Those with Alzheimer’s tend to forget they’ve just completed a task.
- Poor hygiene: If your loved one was always well-kempt, you may start to notice that they aren’t taking good care of their personal hygiene. This may be due to forgetfulness as well, or it could be that they have become apathetic about their appearance. They also may wear the same clothes many days in a row.
- Apraxia: Apraxia is defined as “the impairment to perform pre-programmed motor skills.” Those with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble with tasks like brushing their teeth or using the remote control for the TV, all things they’ve previously been able to accomplish with no issues.
- Lack of energy: Many Alzheimer’s patients take frequent naps throughout the day. This may be due to the fact that they have lost interest in their lives and have become inactive or lethargic. Changes in the brain can cause a lack of motivation and drive, which leads to feeling fatigued and the feeling of needing more sleep.
- Trouble sleeping: Alzheimer’s disease often causes sleeping problems or changes to a person’s sleep cycle. Again, these changes in sleeping habits vary from person to person, but in general, those with Alzheimer’s tend to have trouble sleeping through the night. They also may experience Sundowners Syndrome and become more agitated during the evening hours.
- Wandering or getting lost: When someone with Alzheimer’s begins wandering, they are usually in the later stages of the disease. However, it can occur on a milder level in the beginning stages. Your loved one may experience a desire to walk away or be somewhere else, and may find him or herself getting lost in familiar places.
Many of these symptoms can be directly related to the aging process. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so pay close attention to your aging loved one and if you are concerned, make an appointment with a physician.
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