The Visual Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases do not appear out of the blue. In most cases, people start developing dementia long before an official diagnosis is made. Because of this, it’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs, both internal and external.
The Alzheimer’s Association names 10 primary warning signs for dementia including:
These warning signs are all internal—things happening in the mind and thinking processes that could easily be missed if you’re not paying attention. While these are the primary indicators that dementia may be present, external–or visual–clues can also indicate your loved one may be developing dementia. Keeping an eye out for these could help you spot dementia or Alzheimer’s early on, ensuring your loved one receives an early diagnosis and early intervention.
Visual Clues Your Loved One May Be Developing Dementia
Psychiatric nurse Christine Kennard says there are several visual clues to look out for in your loved one that may indicate the early stages of dementia.
Poor hygiene: As memory declines, your loved one may have trouble remembering to bathe, brush her hair or brush her teeth. A lack of regular daily hygiene could be a sign of dementia.
Strange clothing choices: If your loved one is wearing mismatched clothes or clothes that are inappropriate for the weather, this could be a sign of dementia. Putting on clothes in the right order can also be difficult for someone who is living with dementia. For example, your loved one may try to put his coat on before his shirt. This could be a sign that he is struggling with following a task in the correct order, which is a sign of dementia.
A change in gait: Dementia can affect how someone walks, their balance and their motor skills. If you notice a change in your loved one’s gait, that she is struggling to walk upstairs or is falling more frequently, this could be a sign of dementia.
Inappropriate facial expressions: If your loved one’s facial expressions seem inappropriate, such as smiling when you tell him something sad, this could be a sign of dementia. In fact, researchers have begun paying closer attention to this visual clue as a means of diagnosing dementia.
A recent study looked at the ability of machine learning technology, or artificial intelligence (AI), to examine the faces of several test subjects living with dementia. Based on facial expressions and unique facial attributes, the machine technology was able to accurately detect dementia up to 79% of the time. These findings suggest that AI could be used to help diagnose dementia based on facial examination.
If you’ve noticed any of these visual signs of dementia in your loved one, contact his care provider right away to set up a consult and see what further testing can be done so he can receive a proper diagnosis and plan of care.