Once Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is suspected, it is relatively easy for us to test to find out whether or not a person is a sufferer. However, who seriously suspects AD at first? Unless there is a family history (Familial AD is very rare) then I am sure no-one would primarily conclude their early symptoms to be AD.
In this post I plan to outline the early symptoms that my father had, hoping that someone may be able to spot them in a loved one/themselves and catch the disease early.
As I stated in my last post, my Dad was diagnosed in late 2008. However he had been showing symptoms of the disease since 2004/5. Like many, we did not expect him to have AD. The fact that his mother died in this time period is believed to have possibly 'sped-up' the onset of the disease. It is accepted in my family that he indeed was suffering for 3/4 years pre-diagnosis - these years could have been used to treat him and delay the progression of the disease! Hopefully this blog will have that affect on someone else, as it is too late for my father.
He went for many tests on his sight and hearing, as this is what he thought was the cause of his new-found problems. These problems, for example, were things such as a decrease in driving skills. He had been driving for about 30 years and was a capable driver yet frequently started to have minor accidents such as reversing into walls/clipping his wing-mirrow on cars when parking etc. I remember when I first started dating and my dad drove a girl I was with home, it was so strange because this was the first time I'd seen him make mistakes whilst driving: taking wrong turns when advised to go a certain way, mounting curbs by accident etc. When I asked him what he was doing, he snapped at me (Mood swings being another symptom - he was always really placid before the disease hit! I suppose the frustration the disease brings is bound to cause anger!). I was really embarrassed and due to his angry outburst the girl was under the impression he did not like her and didn't want to return to my house. (Don't feel too sorry for me! I have a lovely, very understanding girlfriend now! :P)
Yet obviously, sight and hearing were not the problem. As these problems got worse, he decided to take the testing further, going for many scans at the local hospital and concluding, 3 years after the first symptoms, that he did infact have AD.
He is now on medication designed to delay and supress the symptoms (Aricept being the main one - What are people's opinions on Aricept? I suppose it is an unfalsifiable technique. How can we know if he would be any worse not on the drugs? I am not willing to find out!)
So I urge you to test yourself/loved ones if you see any of the mentioned early symptoms! Hopefully you may be able to catch and delay the disease in the earliest stages, not leaving it until it is too late like my family unfortunately did!
Thanks for reading, I am sorry that this blog has been so long! I bet I have bored some of you! I'm new to Blogging though, so I'll try to keep the next posts more concise!
Next time: Advice to Carers from a young person's viewpoint!
Thanks again, James (@JamesEllison92)