10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
By: Karin Pauly
When I decided to dedicate more of my life to caregiver support and began researching resources and support options for family and informal caregivers, I was drawn to the Alzheimer’s Association. They are on a mission to cure Alzheimer’s, they conduct thousands of research studies, provide a vast amount of knowledge about dementia to the public, raise awareness…AND their caregiver support programs are some of the best I have seen. Because of this, I volunteer my time as a Community Educator for the Alzheimer’s Association and one of the topics I am trained to present on is the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.
Whenever I teach this course, or even discuss with a friend or acquaintance about the early warning signs, I get a little nervous because it feels like I may have these signs and symptoms sometimes, and my friends may feel the same way. For example, I misplace things and can’t retrace my steps from time to time. However, it really is about when you experience significant changes that disrupt daily life and are uncharacteristic. For example if someone now recently begins to frequently forget where he or she parks the car at the store (which I have always done), and are a person who NEVER used to forget where they park because they write down the exact location, this is a disruptive change that impacts life and may be a sign. For me, forgetting where I park my car is something I have always done and is probably nothing to worry about.
The Alzheimer’s Association does a nice job of outlining the warning signs on their website. Visit www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs for more in-depth descriptions.
Source: The Alzheimer’s Association
10 Early Signs and Symptoms (along with typical age-related changes)
MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS EVERYDAY LIFE
What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING
What’s a typical age-related change? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
DIFFICULTY IN COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK OR AT LEISURE
What’s a typical age-related change? Occasionally needing help to use the setting on the microwave or record a television show.
CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE
What’s a typical age-related change? Getting confused about the day of the week, but figuring it out later.
TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS
What’s a typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.
NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS AND IN SPEAKING OR WRITING
What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS
What’s a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.
DECREASED OR POOR JUDGEMENT
What’s a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.
WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family, or social obligations.
CHANGES IN MOOD OR PERSONALITY
What’s a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
If you suspect that you or a loved on might be showing early signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s, contact the Alzheimer’s Association for support on their 24/7 helpline at 1.800.272.3900.