Ten Warning Signs for Alzheimer’s Disease

Learn the warning signs for Alzheimer's disease

Learn the warning signs for Alzheimer's disease

As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

How do you recognize the warning signs for this disease? The Alzheimer’s Association has prepared a list of common symptoms. If you make several marks on the list below, the person who has the symptoms should see a physician for a complete examination. Some of these symptoms may also apply to other forms of dementia:

  1. Recent memory loss that affects job skills: It’s normal to lose keys, to misplace a list or to forget a phone number – as long as you find the keys or the list or remember the phone number later. People who have dementia may forget things more often and not remember them later.
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks: You may have burned a dinner or forgot the popcorn in the microwave. Busy people can be distracted from time to time. People with Alzheimer’s disease could prepare a meal and forget not only to serve it but that they prepared it.
  3. Problems with language: Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person who has Alzheimer’s disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words to form an incomprehensible sentence.
  4. Disorientation of time and place: If you’ve ever forgotten the day of the week, your age or your destination, you know that if you concentrate you find the solution immediately. Alzheimer’s disease may prevent people from remembering where they are, how they got there or how to get home. Sometimes, an Alzheimer’s patient may not know he or she is lost.
  5. Poor or decreased judgment: People with Alzheimer’s disease may forget about a child under their care or dress inappropriately, such as wearing an overcoat on a hot day or wearing several shirts or blouses at one time.
  6. Problems with abstract thinking: You may never be able to balance your checkbook, but you usually do not forget what numbers mean and how to use them. Alzheimer’s disease can prevent a person from remembering what numbers mean and what needs to be done with them.
  7. Misplacing things: While you still may not find your keys, you usually do not put an iron in the freezer or a necklace in the sugar bowl. Alzheimer’s disease can make a person forgetful, and it also can push a person to make inappropriate choices.
  8. Changes in mood or behavior: Sadness and moodiness can be a part of life. A person with Alzheimer’s disease, however, can experience rapid and extreme mood swings for no apparent reason.
  9. Changes in personality: As people age, their personalities often change depending upon experiences and beliefs. A person with Alzheimer’s disease can change personality drastically and seemingly without warning, becoming fearful, suspicious or confused.
  10. Loss of initiative: You’ve probably experienced depression in your lifetime, where you cannot become enthused about anything. Usually, with help or with a more positive attitude, these moods can dissipate. A person with Alzheimer’s however, may become very passive for long periods of time and require cues or prompting to become involved.

If you feel you or a loved one is exhibiting these signs, check with the Alzheimer’s Association to learn more about this disease. No two people experience Alzheimer’s disease or aging in the same way, so make sure that your perceptions are correct before you become overly concerned or depressed about your findings. A doctor also can help dispel or confirm your personal diagnosis and help you to plan ahead if you do have this disease.

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