10 Warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
It may be hard to know the difference between a typical age-related change and the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Ask yourself: is this something new? For example, if the person was never good at balancing a checkbook, struggling with this task is probably not a warning sign. But it his or her ability to balance a checkbook has changes significantly, it is something to share with a doctor.
Some people recognize changes in themselves before anyone else does. Other times, friends and family are the first to notice changes in the person’s memory, behavior or abilities. To help identify problems early, we have created a list of warning signs for Alzheimer’s. Individuals may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life: one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stages is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important date or events; asking for the same information over and over and increasingly needing to rely on memory aides (e.g. reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things used to handle on their own. What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names of appointments but remembering them later.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems: Some people may experiences changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. What’s a typical age-related charge? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook?
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure: People with Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game. What’s a typical age-related change? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a TV show.
- Confusion with time or space: People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of date seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. What’s a typical age-related change? Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships: For some people having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. What’s a typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.
- New Problems with words in speaking or writing: People with words in speaking or writing: People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g. calling a watch a ‘hand clock’). What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps: A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. What’s a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.
- Decreased or poor judgment: People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. What’s a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities: A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced. What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
- Changes in mood and personality: The mood and personality of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. What’s a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
Mood changes with any age may also be a sign of some other condition. Consult a doctor if you observe any changes. If you notice any of these warning signs, please see a doctor. Doctor’s ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is improving dramatically
Act Now Foundation
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Jersey City, NJ 07306
*Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Act Now Foundation handout. I have not used the service so I have no opinion of the service either yes or no to how it works. Please call the above numbers for more information.