Many of us experience forgetful moments — names and birthdays are confused or you can’t find your car in the parking lot — but how do you know when it’s something more serious than just a lapse in your memory? Knowing the signs and seeking early treatment for Alzheimer’s disease can improve your odds of living a fuller life.
There are many changes we undergo as we get older — some of us can’t stay up as long as we used to; driving or reading a menu without glasses is no longer an option; brown spots or other signs of sun damage from our youth begin to make their debut.
But deterioration of memory is one of the most debilitating and fearful changes we undergo as we age.
We become forgetful — losing keys from time to time, letting a monthly payment slip through the cracks or forgetting which day of the week it is. But how do you distinguish whether your loss of memory is a typical sign of aging or the first signs of something more serious, such as Alzheimer’s disease?
Below are the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Forgetting recently acquired information is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information repeatedly, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. Having trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills, experiencing difficulty concentrating are possible indications of the onset of Alzheimer’s.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. This sign could entail managing a budget at work, remembering the rules of a favorite game or having trouble driving to a familiar location.
- Confusion with time or place. Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time or forgetting where you are and how you got there are all common struggles among people with Alzheimer’s.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. This could include difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast.
- Challenges with words in speaking or writing. Stopping in the middle of a conversation, struggling to continue the conversation or repeating oneself, and experiencing difficulty with vocabulary and finding the right words are all signs of the disease.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. In some cases those with Alzheimer’s will accuse others of stealing.
- Poor judgment and decision making. Examples include poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers, and neglecting personal grooming and hygiene.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer’s will often disengage from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports.
- Changes in mood or personality. Symptoms may include fear, confusion, suspicion and depression that can result in one becoming easily upset and agitated.
If you or someone you care about exhibits any of these warning signs, consult your doctor. Early diagnosis will enable you to seek treatment earlier and develop a plan for the future.