Woman, 58, struggles with daily tasks prior to Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Alzheimer's: Dr Chris discusses the early signs of condition

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Dementia is a syndrome – a group of symptoms – associated with a progressive deterioration of brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia of this. It can impact memory, how a person thinks and other mental skills.

This was the case for one woman who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 58.

Her story was published in the Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders journal in 2019.

It detailed how she suffered from repetitiveness, memory loss, and executive function loss before attending a clinic.

Executive function loss means a person loses the ability to manage their own thoughts, emotions and actions.

Specifically, the case study noted how daily tasks – such as turning off the stove – become difficult not long before her diagnosis.

“Progressive cognitive decline was evident by the report of deficits in instrumental activities of daily living performance over the past nine months before her initial consultation in the memory clinic,” it says.

“Word finding and literacy skills were noted to have deteriorated in the preceding six months according to her spouse.

“Examples of functional losses were being slower in processing and carrying out instructions, not knowing how to turn off the stove, and becoming unable to assist in boat docking which was the couple’s pastime.

“She stopped driving a motor vehicle about 6 months before her memory clinic consultation.”

She had no family history of dementia, and no other serious health issues.

Over the next four years she continued to decline in cognition and function and was admitted to a care facility due to her “total dependence” for basic activities of daily living.

The study says: “During this time, she developed muscle rigidity, motor apraxias (inability to make precise movements), worsening perceptual, and language skills and became dependent for all activities of daily livings.

“At the fourth year of treatment, occasional myoclonus (sudden, brief involuntary twitching)was noted.

“She was a one person assist for walking because of increased risk of falls.”

She died at age 63 of pneumonia.

What is early onset Alzheimer’s disease?

Early onset Alzheimer’s is considered to be Alzheimer’s that affects people under the age of 65, but it often strikes when people are in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that causes memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is “difficulty remembering newly learned information”.

Symptoms can include:

  • Confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
  • Difficulty planning or making decisions
  • Problems with speech and language
  • Problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
  • Personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) and delusions (believing things that are untrue)
  • Low mood or anxiety.

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