Alzheimer’s Early Warning Signs

By 2050, 11 to 16 million people will likely have Alzheimer’s. The disease can occur as young as age 35, and is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs that indicate a person should see their doctor:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life – a common sign that includes forgetting recently learned information, dates and events. This kind of memory loss is different from typical memory loss where the person remembers what was forgotten later.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems – a person may struggle to follow a plan or recipe, or suddenly can no longer keep track of monthly bills. This is different from making occasional errors when keeping a checkbook or executing a plan.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure – this can include struggling to complete daily tasks, being unable to find a familiar location or forgetting the rules of a favorite game. This is different from simply having trouble doing complex tasks such as recording a television show.

4. Confusion with time or place – this involves losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. People with Alzheimer’s often have difficulty understanding an event if it is not happening immediately. They may forget where they are or how they got there. This is different from simply becoming confused about the day of the week but remembering it later.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships – this includes difficulty reading, judging distance or distinguishing colors or contrast. Other signs include mistaking their reflection in a mirror for someone else in the room. This is different from suffering vision problems related to cataracts.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing – this includes struggling to follow or join conversations. People with Alzheimer’s often stop in the middle of a conversation, unable to continue. They may also forget basic words. This is different from occasionally struggling to find the right word to use in a sentence.

7. Misplacing things and inability to retrace steps – this includes placing objects in unusual places and accusing others of stealing. This is different from simply losing one’s glasses or forgetting where the TV remote is.

8. Diminished judgment – Alzheimer’s can affect a person’s ability to make decisions. Sudden instances of poor judgments with money, such as agreeing to give large sums to telemarketers, can be a sign. This is different from simply making a bad decision every once in a while.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities – this includes suddenly giving up hobbies, social activities, work projects and sports. These signs are different from simply getting tired and wanting to take a break from some activities or social contact to rest.

10. Changes in mood and personality – this includes sudden displays of confusion, suspicion, depression, fearfulness and anxiety. People with Alzheimer’s can become upset when removed from their comfort zones. This is different from developing routines over time and being irritated when they are disrupted.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. If you suspect you or someone you love might be showing signs of Alzheimer’s, see a doctor. Early detection is key to delaying to delaying disease development!

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