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Alzheimer's: 10 Warning Signs

Alzheimer's: 10 Warning Signs

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia—a blanket term for deterioration of the brain, usually in older adults, that causes memory loss and cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s is a fatal disorder that ultimately results in the loss of brain cells and function. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually creep up slowly, gradually worsening over time, and are often hard for a person to recognize in themselves. This is why it’s so important for both aging adults as well as loved ones and caretakers to be familiar with the warning signs.

The Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of warning signs to help identify Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related problems early on. It is important to note that not everyone will experience every symptom, and different symptoms will affect them to different degrees. If you think you or someone you love may be exhibiting signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, consult with your doctor to seek an early intervention treatment plan.

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

            This is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s: forgetting recently-learned information. If you or a loved one has frequent trouble recalling names, places, or other information recently after being told about it, or important information that they generally did not have trouble recalling, they may be exhibiting early signs of dementia.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems

            In some Alzheimer’s victims, their ability to follow steps or work with numbers is impaired. For example, they may have trouble following a recipe, balancing their checkbook, or doing activities that require planning and/or problem-solving. Other common symptoms in this category are having issues concentrating and taking longer than usual to perform tasks.

3. Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure

            A common sign of Alzheimer’s is difficulty in completing daily tasks. People with Alzheimer’s may find it particularly difficult to do common, everyday activities, like grocery shopping, driving to a familiar location, or even remembering the rules to one of their favorite games.

4. Confusion with time or place

            Often, Alzheimer’s patients will have trouble recalling the date, season, or even where they are and how they got there. Additionally, they may have problems conceptualizing or understanding an event if it is not happening immediately.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spacial relationships

            In some cases, visual impairment is a sign of Alzheimer’s. These people may have a hard time reading, determining distance or space between two things, and judging color or contrast. One big point of concern that comes along with vision impairment is the danger it adds to driving and operating an automobile.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

            People with Alzheimer’s may struggle to articulate themselves, take an extended period of time to find the right words, use vocabulary incorrectly, and lose track of what they were saying in the middle of a thought.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

            A person with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places, forget where they have placed items, and show an inability to think through their own steps in an action. This often results in the loss of items, as Alzheimer’s patients are usually unable to retrace their steps to find things they have set down.

8. Decreased or poor judgement

            Changes in judgement and/or decision-making are also signs of Alzheimer’s. Those with Alzheimer’s may make poor decisions with their money, putting large sums into things like telemarketing products or scratch cards, for example. Additionally, they may pay less attention to their own physical upkeep, perhaps letting themselves go to an extent.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

            A person with Alzheimer’s disease may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or hobby. In addition, they may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced in themselves, perhaps spurred by self-consciousness or general disinterest.

10. Changes in mood or personality

            Finally, the mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s are often subject to change and fluctuation. They can become anxious, suspicious, depressed, or confused. They may also get more easily upset or frustrated at home, work, with friends, or in places where they find themselves out of their comfort zone. It is important to note, however, that these changes in mood and personality may be the symptom of a different condition. Always consult with a doctor to reach the correct diagnosis.

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