10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory loss, confusion and disorientation are not part of the normal aging process. They are symptoms of dementia. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. To help family members and health care professionals recognize warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease early, the Alzheimer’s Association (U.S.A.) has developed a checklist of common symptoms of the disease.
1. Recent memory loss that affects job skills
It’s normal to occasionally forget assignments, colleagues’ names or a business associate’s telephone number and remember them later. Those with a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, may forget things more often and not remember them later.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them at the end of the meal. People with Alzheimer’s disease could prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it but also forget they made it.
3. Problems with language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentence incomprehensible.
4. Disorientation as to time and place
It’s normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a moment. But people with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.
5. Poor or decreased judgment
People can become so immersed in an activity that they temporarily forget the child they’re watching. People with Alzheimer’s disease could forget entirely the child under their care. They may also dress inappropriately, wearing several shirts or blouses on a warm day or very little clothing in cold weather.
6. Problems with abstract thinking
Balancing a checkbook may be disconcerting when the task is more complicated than usual. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.
7. Misplacing things
Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in inappropriate places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
8. Changes in mood or behavior
Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease can exhibit rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
9. Changes in personality
People’s personalities ordinarily change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer’s disease can change drastically, becoming extremely confused, suspicious or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative
It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive and require cues and prompting to become involved.
If you recognize several of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, the Alzheimer’s Association (U.S.A.) recommends consulting a physician. A physician can properly diagnose the person’s condition, and sometimes symptoms are reversible. Even if the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, help is available to learn how to care for a person with dementia and where to find caregiver assistance.
Used with permission of the Alzheimer's Association