5 Signs of Alzheimer's That Show Up Before Memory Loss

Memory loss is a leading cause of why a person may need Long Term Health Care. Knowing early signs is important so you can get a head's up on a loved one. This is also a reason why you should make Long-Term Care Insurance part of retirement planning.

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5 Signs of Alzheimer's That Show Up Before Memory Loss
5 Min Read June 29th, 2015 Updated:May 7th, 2020

Memory loss is the health issue most of us start to worry about as we get older. Alzheimer's disease, or other forms of dementia, impact many American families. The risk of cognitive decline increases as we get older. When you suffer from some form of dementia, it has a significant impact on income, savings, lifestyle, and legacy. Plus, the emotional impact on loved ones is hard to calculate.

You might start forgetting things and start to think that you might be in the early stages of dementia. Perhaps your loved ones begin to mention to you about your memory. While people do start getting early symptoms as early as in their 30s, you see the majority of signs starting in your early 60s. It can be very distressing, especially if no advance plan has been put into place. 

Cognitive Decline Leads to Long-Term Care

When you suffer from some form of dementia, you will start to require supervision and other types of long-term care services and supports. The cost of care is expensive. Often families don't realize that health insurance or Medicare, including Medicare supplements, won't pay for this care. Only Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for these services, but you must have a policy in place when you enjoy good health, usually before you retire. 

Sometimes, according to memory experts, even doctors miss early dementia signs because they're focused on memory loss to the exclusion of other symptoms. In fact, in 2011, Spanish researchers found that more than a third of adults who go on to develop early-onset Alzheimer's (the kind that appears before age 65) have the symptoms early in the disease, even before memory loss is apparent. These symptoms can also be the first to appear among adults who develop Alzheimer's after age 65.

Early Symptoms of Dementia That Get Overlooked

Doctors and family member often miss these signs of dementia, especially in younger people. Of course, if you notice any of these symptoms, it's essential to have them checked out by a doctor, psychologist, or another expert in cognition and the brain. Sometimes it is NOT dementia, but another health issue or medication that is causing your dementia symptoms.

Paula Spencer Scott, Caring.com contributing editor, wrote these five signs you and your family should pay attention to:

An early sign of dementia #1: Personality change

A warm, friendly loved one may seem to morph into a bit of a grouch -- at first occasionally, and then increasingly. A gregarious person still jokes and talks a lot but begins to say inappropriate things or make odd accusations. A mild-mannered loved one starts cursing. All of these are examples of the kinds of personality changes that can predate memory loss in someone with dementia. Often, it's only later that friends and family look back and realize that behaviors they found off-putting or upsetting weren't intentional but related to the Alzheimer's.

An early sign of dementia #2: Problems with executive functioning

Trouble carrying out basic, familiar tasks can creep up slowly but surely. The person may, for example, have difficulty doing something that involves multiple steps, like following written directions or instructions. A longtime cook may avoid complicated recipes. A hobbyist may simplify the form of his or her craft.

Other hallmark trouble areas include making plans and not following through, whether for a vacation or an activity. Another sign is not keeping track of bills. Not being able to solve simple problems, such as mending a broken piece of machinery that a person could once fix easily, is yet another sign.

An early sign of dementia #3: Vision problems

Problems with depth perception or visual-spatial coordination can precede memory problems. The person may have trouble driving or even walking well without tripping on stairs. It can be hard to judge distances or see contrasts between like colors, which can lead to accidents. 

In a more severe example of a perception problem, the person may not recognize himself or herself in a mirror or when passing his or her reflection in a building or window on the street.

An early sign of dementia #4: Language problems

Word retrieval and getting out the right words can become apparent before friends and family notice the more common communication problem of repeating stories or questions. For example, the person having trouble may stop in the middle of a sentence, unable to think of the next word. (This can happen to anyone, but when it's a sign of dementia, it happens with alarming frequency, and sometimes the person isn't even aware of doing it.) Or the wrong word may come out -- "mouth cleaner" for "toothbrush" or "picture stick" for "TV remote control."

An early sign of dementia #5: Social withdrawal

Early in Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, the person is often well aware that something is amiss, even if he or she isn't exactly sure of the source of the problem. It can be frightening to feel that you're not quite in control of your faculties all of the time. This can cause the person to use more and more energy to stay in self-command. That leaves less energy to interact with others. Sometimes the person isn't even aware that he or she seems to be losing interest in friends and family because he or she is concentrating so hard on just getting through the day.

Social withdrawal can also be caused by a desire to avoid embarrassment or by depression -- which often develops alongside dementia. With crisis management often comes poor decisions.

Prepare Your Family and Finances for Future Extended Care Now

Once you have these signs, you have few, if any, options. It is essential to plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging before you actually get old. You can't think because you are healthy today you shouldn't plan for the long-term care needs you will have in the decades ahead. It is precisely the fact you are healthy today that offers you the control to plan in advance. 

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance provides you with the guaranteed tax-free benefits you need to access your choice of quality care. Extended care can be delivered at home or in a facility. You get to choose how you receive your future care. 

Meanwhile, your family has the time to be family. They won't be burdened with having to become your caregiver - or manage your future care.

Take the time to investigate your Long-Term Care Insurance option before you retire, ideally in your 40s or 50s, when you enjoy good health.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

As you get older the chance of suffering from a cognitive decline increases. Unfortunately, just getting older is a risk for needing some type of long-term care service, and suffering from some kind of dementia is only one of many reasons people require extended care. 

Preparing for the very expensive costs of paid care services is essential to a successful future retirement. Preparing your family for your longevity will make it easier for them. This is why for many American families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance becomes a vital part of their overall retirement plan.

 You Will Pay for Care Unless You Plan

Without any plan, you will either pay for care out of income and savings, or your family will provide the care. Often a daughter or daughter-in-law must balance their career, family, and other responsibilities. It is not easy. There is a better solution. 

 Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance gives you access to your choice of quality care in the setting you desire without placing a burden and stress on your loved ones. Plus, they protect your income and savings. There is no need for your family to go into crisis management when you take the initiative to safeguard assets and ease family stress with an affordable Long-Term Care Insurance policy. 

 LTC Insurance is Affordable but Plan Early

The key is to plan before you retire when premiums are very affordable. Start your research by finding the current and future cost of care where you live by using the LTC News Map.

Always use an experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist

Act before you retire and give your family peace-of-mind.

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