Neurosciences Dec 11, 2018

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging and may be a sign of Alzheimer’s or other dementia

An Asian grandmother holds her grandson in her lap. She holds a mobile phone at which both of them are looking.

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias worldwide. Although it’s known to affect adults 65 years and older, up to 5% of those diagnosed have early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, meaning they are diagnosed in their 40s or 50s. Your memory often changes as you grow old, but memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging and may be a sign of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms can help diagnose and begin treatment early. The Alzheimer’s Association compiled a list of the 10 most common signs of Alzheimer’s. If you notice any of the following signs, don’t ignore them, schedule an appointment with your doctor:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. As you grow older, you or a loved one may sometimes forget names or appointments but remember them later, which is a typical or normal age-related memory change. However, if you are consistently forgetting recently learned information and are asking for the same information over and over or increasingly relying on memory aids (reminder notes or electronic devices), you should see a doctor.

2. Difficulty planning or solving problems. Difficulty concentrating and taking much longer to complete a task than before may be a more apparent sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia. For example, difficulty following through with a plan or working with numbers, such as managing monthly bills or following a familiar recipe, would be a sign to see a doctor.

3. Challenges with completing familiar tasks at work or at leisure. As the disease progresses, the ability to do routine day-to-day tasks may take someone a lot longer. The ability to drive safely is also called into question if you or a loved one gets lost while traveling a commonly traveled route.

4. Confusion with time or place. People with advancing Alzheimer’s disease can become increasingly forgetful about where they are, how they got there, or why they are there. You or your loved one may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately.

5. Visual and spatial problems. For some people, vision problems may also be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast when driving can all be symptoms.

6. New difficulties with words in speaking or writing. Sometimes having trouble finding the right word is a normal occurrence in life; however, people with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty following a conversation or even beginning one. Struggling with vocabulary, stopping mid-conversation, repeating themselves, or calling things by the wrong name are signs that shouldn’t be ignored.

7. Misplacing things. Misplacing your keys every now and then is also totally normal, but someone with Alzheimer’s may be placing their things in unusual places and are unable to find them later. This can cause confusion and they may assume someone is stealing their things. Again, this memory change warrants a doctor’s visit.

8. Poor decision-making. Poor judgment or decision-making is a symptom that can often cause detrimental effects. The inability to make thoughtful financial decisions can oftentimes leave people suffering from Alzheimer’s in tough situations. Paying less attention to physical hygiene can also be a symptom.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. As symptoms progress, you or your loved one may become increasingly more withdrawn from normal activities or hobbies that were once previously important.

10. Experiencing personality and mood changes. Dealing with memory problems and other symptoms Alzheimer’s Disease brings is hard and oftentimes can cause confusion, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious behaviors. You or a loved one may become easily upset or feel out of the normal comfort zone when at work, with friends, or even at home.

If you have noticed any of the above ten warning signs in yourself or someone you know, do not ignore them. Early detection matters see your doctor!

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