10 Signs of Alzheimer's Disease


People often ask how to differentiate between typical signs of aging and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Knowing the answer can help those touched by this disease plan earlier to get the care and support they need.

Below is a guide that outlines the differences between typical age-related changes, and those that may signal a more serious problem. Invaluable resources such as this, helps to advance innovative research into methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately a cure. This will allow the Alzheimer’s Association to continue to help families and friends recognize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

#1: Memory changes that disrupt daily life: One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages, is forgetting recently learned information. For example:

*Asking for the same information over and over.

*Forgetting important dates or events.

*Relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

***Typical age-related changes: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.***

#2: Challenges in planning or solving problems: Some people may have difficulty concentrating or take much longer to do things than they did before.

*They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.

*Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.

***Typical age-related changes: Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.***

#3: Difficulty completing familiar tasks: People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks such as:

*Driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

***Typical age-related changes: Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or record a television show.***

#4: Confusion with time or place: People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time.

*They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately.

*Sometimes they may forget where they are, or how they got there.

***Typical age-related changes: Getting confused about the day of the week, but figuring it out later.***

#5: Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships: Some people may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast.

*In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

***Typical age-related changes: Vision changes related to cataracts.***

#6: New problems 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.

***Typical age-related changes: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.***

#7: 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.

***Typical age-related changes: Misplacing things from time to time.***

#8: Decreased or poor judgement: People with Alzheimer’s may demonstrate unusual changes in judgement or decision making.

*For example, they may use poor judgement when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers.

*They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

***Typical age-related changes: Making a bad decision once in a while.***

#9: 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 also avoid being social because of the changes they have experiences.

***Typical age-related changes: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family, and social obligations.***

#10: Changes in mood and personality: The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change.

*They may be easily upset in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

*They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

***Typical age-related changes: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.***

If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Please consult a physician.

For more information, or to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association visit, or call 800.272.3900.

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