Poor Navigation Can Be Just One Early Sign Of Alzheimer's Disease, According To Research

Date September 4, 2019 01:00

The population of the United States is getting older, so Alzheimer's disease seems to be on rise. More and more people develop symptoms of Alzheimer's in their 70s and 80s. It’s estimated that more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, doctors still have no cure for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Researchers know enough about Alzheimer’s to understand what is going on in the brains of those affected, but not enough to determine its causes and find a cure. Nevertheless, there’s some progress in Alzheimer’s research. Scientists from all over the world work hard to find a cure. Also, they also know a lot about the early detection of Alzheimer’s.

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The earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease

Research from Washington University in St. Louis gives us a clue as to what the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s might be. And, lo and behold, it’s not memory loss.

In the study, there were three groups of participants: healthy individuals, those with early-stage Alzheimer’s, and people at the preclinical stage of the disease. All participants were tested. Their task was to find the way out of a virtual computer maze. The aim was to check navigation and orientation skills.

Poor Navigation Can Be Just One Early Sign Of Alzheimer's Disease, According To Research©Fabiosa

Obviously, healthy individuals did well. People with early-stage Alzheimer’s fared worse, but so did people with preclinical Alzheimer’s.

What does it tell us? Inability or decreased ability to find your way around could be one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s. Yes, many people with poor navigation skills don’t have the disease. But if you once could easily navigate both familiar and unfamiliar places and you’ve started to lose this skill, it can be one of the first Alzheimer’s red flags.

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Signs of Alzheimer’s disease

People with Alzheimer’s often get the diagnosis when their symptoms have already been obvious for some time. Some subtle signs can indicate the developing disease early on, but they are easy to overlook. Below, we list some of these signs that could be present from the early stages of the condition:

1. Increasing forgetfulness

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Forgetfulness and decreased ability to learn new things are one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s. It’s not a problem if you forget something temporarily but it comes to mind later. However, if you are forgetting things and seem unable to recover them from your memory at all, it may be a sign of trouble.

2. Detachment

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People who have early Alzheimer’s but haven’t been diagnosed yet often get a feeling that something is wrong with them. They may stop doing activities they used to enjoy, especially if they are complex. And they may start avoiding conversations, as it may be harder for them to follow what others are saying and come up with coherent responses.

3. Lack of self-care

Poor Navigation Can Be Just One Early Sign Of Alzheimer's Disease, According To Research©Fabiosa

People with Alzheimer’s may lose interest in conversations and activities and they also tend to become less concerned about their appearance. Someone with Alzheimer’s can start forgetting to shower, brush the teeth, do his or her hair, or change clothes.

4. Problems with vision and other senses

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People with Alzheimer’s complain of vision problems, but these usually have nothing to do with the eyes. The problem is in the part of the brain that processes visual information.

We don't know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but all we can do is to detect it early. Share this useful information with your friends and family.

READ ALSO: How To Recognize Alzheimer's Early: 9 Typical Signs And Symptoms

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.