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Top 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s

A small amount of memory changes are normal as we age. However, some memory changes are indicative of a larger issue. Signs of Alzheimer’s are never a normal part of aging.

Have you noticed changes in cognition in yourself or someone you love? The Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County is here to help. Below are ten signs to look for that may indicate Alzheimer’s or another dementia. While it can be scary to think about, getting an early diagnosis and the right support can improve quality of life.

Top 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s

1. MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY ACTIVITIES. Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage. Other signs can include forgetting important events, repeating the same question or statement over again, or increasingly needing to rely on reminder notes, electronic devices, or family members for things someone used to handle on their own. What’s a typical change as we age? Sometimes forgetting information, but remembering it later.

2. PLANNING OR PROBLEM-SOLVING CHALLENGES. People living with dementia may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. What’s a typical change as we age? Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.

3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR ACTIVITIES. Sometimes people living with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble driving to a familiar location, making a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game. What’s a typical change as we age? Occasionally needing help learning microwave settings or recording a TV show.

4. CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE. People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and time. They may have trouble understanding something not happening immediately. They may forget where they are or how they got there. What’s a typical change as we age? Getting confused about the day of the week, but realizing later.

5. DIFFICULTY WITH VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS. For some people, vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving. What’s a typical change as we age? Vision changes related to cataracts.

6. PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING. People living with Alzheimer’s might have trouble following or joining a conversation. They might stop in the middle of a conversation and have no clue how to continue, or repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name, such as calling a wristwatch a “hand-clock.” What’s a typical change as we age? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7. MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS. A person living with Alzheimer’s might put things in unusual places. They might lose things and be unable to go over their steps to find them again. They might accuse someone of stealing, especially as the disease progresses. What’s a typical change as we age? Misplacing things occasionally and retracing steps to find them.

8. DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, or pay less attention to hygiene or appearance. What’s a typical change as we age? Making a bad decision once in a while, like neglecting to change the oil in the car.

9. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES. A person living with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. They might withdraw from hobbies, socializing, or other arrangements as a result. They might have issues keeping up with their usual interests. What’s a typical change as we age? Occasionally feeling uninterested in social plans.

10. CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY. Those living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They might become easily upset. What’s a typical change as we age? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you know is displaying any of these signs, confide in a trusted friend or family member. For tips on how to have a conversation, call the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County at 903-509-8323 and ask to speak with Maggie, LBSW, or Kathy, LPC.

This list is for information only and not a substitute for a consultation with a qualified medical professional. See a doctor. Get a full evaluation to determine if it’s Alzheimer’s, another kind of dementia, or something else. Early diagnosis lets you plan for the future, find support services or medication that might help slow the disease. Call the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County to schedule a free introductory memory screening, or for a list of neurologists in the area who can do more extensive testing.