With an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, you have a better chance of receiving the maximum benefit from available treatments-which can help you to relieve symptoms and maintain your independence longer. Early diagnosis can also provide you with more time to plan for your future care as well as develop a support system with your family and friends. Here are 10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If you recognize any of these signs, please see a doctor as soon as possible.
1. Memory Loss
Memory loss is a given with age. We will often forget names or maybe an appointment, but we will typically recall the name or remember it after the fact – usually at an inconvenient time like in the middle of the night. When we begin forgetting important dates or asking for the same information over and over without the ability to recall it on our own, it’s a sign of something more serious.
2. Difficulty Problem Solving
We all make occasional errors when counting change or we sometimes mistake a ¼ of a teaspoon for a ½ of a tablespoon. We are human, not machines. However, if you notice you are having difficulty following a recipe or following a list of things to do for the day, it may be a sign of changes within the brain that could be linked to Alzheimer’s.
3. Daily Tasks Become Hard
People with Alzheimer’s often have trouble driving to a familiar location such as the grocery store or diner. They might sit down to play a favorite card game and forget the rules. Tasks of the daily routine become difficult to complete.
I often ask myself out loud, “What day is it?” only to answer myself a few seconds later and get strange looks from the person next to me in line. With Alzheimer’s, losing track of time is more than just an hour or a day. It can be entire seasons. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s may even get confused as to where they are or how they got there.
5. Vision Problems
Some (though not all) people with Alzheimer’s can experience some impairment with their vision. Judging distance, colors, and contrast can become a challenge.
6. Difficulty with Words
We all struggle to find the right word to describe something sometimes, but people with Alzheimer’s will often call a watch a hand-clock or stop in the middle of a conversation to repeat themselves. Difficulty joining or following a conversation is also common.
7. Inability to Retrace Steps
I seem to misplace items from time to time, but I can typically retrace my steps to figure out where I might have left something. Someone struggling with Alzheimer’s may find this task too complicated. They might put things in unusual places (placing the keys in the refrigerator) or accuse others of stealing.
8. Poor Judgment
Changes in judgment often occur in people with Alzheimer’s. They may give large amounts of money to an unfamiliar organization or stop grooming themselves in the way they normally would.
9. Social Withdrawal
We all struggle with the weight of work and social obligations, and sometimes we may choose to opt out of activities for a brief period of time. Withdrawing from hobbies, work, and social activities for an extended period of time is another potential sign of Alzheimer’s, as this can indicate changes in the brain or inability to remember how to complete certain tasks.
10. Personality Changes
It’s one thing to become irritable when your routine is disrupted, but it’s something entirely different to become depressed, anxious, or confused on a consistent basis with friends or at home. Dramatic personality changes are often seen in those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alz.org.
Research & Community Education