Can early signs of Alzheimer's be mood swings and feeling unsettled?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Nichelle asked...

Can early signs of Alzheimer's be sitting in the car, horrible mood swings, and feeling unsettled?

Expert Answers

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

A single occurrence or two of unusual behavior should not cause too much concern. Signs of early Alzheimer's may include the behaviors you describe. However sitting in the car, horrible mood swings, and feeling unsettled by themselves can also be signs of other issues, such as depression, low-grade infections, aches and pains, or bad drug reactions.

But if the mood swings, combined with memory loss and confusion, have been increasing gradually for some time, they can be considered early signs of Alzheimer's or related dementia. Before you jump to the conclusion that this is Alzheimer's, have him undergo a thorough physical. There are a number of reversible conditions that mimic Alzheimer's disease and dementia, such as: reaction to medications, dehydration, vitamin or other nutritional deficiencies, low-grade infections, or NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus or excess fluid on the brain.)

Every case of dementia or Alzheimer's is unique, but they all share certain characteristics. We all experience one or several of these slips once in a while, and they should not be a worry until they start interfering with our daily lives.

"¢ Consistent and increasing short-term memory loss

"¢ Loss of language. Problems finding words. Unfinished thoughts or sentences

"¢ Problems writing, reading, and retaining information just garnered

"¢ Misplacing things

"¢ Confusion about time and space

"¢ Avoiding people and challenges

"¢ Difficulty with familiar tasks (getting dressed, brushing teeth etc.)

"¢ Changes in mood and personality

"¢ Increased anxiety, confusion, suspicion, depression, and fear.