The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms to help family members recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
1. Memory loss. Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later. He or she forgets to attend medical appointments, for example
3. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved with preparing a meal, placing a telephone call, or playing a game.
5. Problem with language. People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or handwriting hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for “that thing for my mouth.”
7. Disorientation to time and place. People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they go there, and may not know how to get back home
9. Poor or decreased judgment. Those with Alzheimer’s may dress inappropriately for weather, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money of strangers
11. Problems with abstract thinking. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.
13. Misplacing things. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: for example, an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowls.
15. Changes in mood or behavior. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings-from calm to tears to anger-for no apparent reason.
17. Changes in personality. The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful,, or dependent on a family member.
19. Loss of initiative. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual, or not wanting to partake in normal activities.
It is important to note that many treatable health conditions have the same signs as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The earlier you detect and discuss your observations with your elders, the better. Seeking help early can save families heartache and money