In 2019, an estimated 5.8 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia. That number is expected to grow to 14 million within the next 30 years. On average, someone in the United States develops the disease every 65 seconds. In this post, we will list ten early signs of Alzheimer’s that may indicate an appointment with your health care provider is appropriate.
Here are the 10 most common signs of dementia:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Most commonly, those with early Alzheimer’s will forget recently learned information. They may begin to rely on memory aids such as reminder notes. Eventually, they rely on others to complete tasks they used to complete on their own. If a person forgets information but is able to remember it later, that is more typical of an age-related change.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. One of the noticeable signs as Alzheimer’s progresses is the change in the ability to work with numbers. For example, they may not be able to balance their checkbook or follow a recipe as they once did. It may take them longer to do things they did before. Occasional errors when managing finance is more typical of an age-related change.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. People with Alzheimer’s have a hard time completing daily tasks. For example, they may forget how to get to their house or have difficulty remembering steps to a chore they have completed many times. Occasionally needing assistance to help do tasks such as setting the DVR to record may be more typical of an age-related change.
Confusion with Time
- Confusion with time or place. It is common for someone living with Alzheimer’s to lose track of dates and time. They may forget where they are, how they got there, or how long they have been there. Getting confused about the day of the week but remembering later is more typical of an age-related change.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s. This can lead to difficulty with balance as well. They may have issues judging distance or determining color or contrast. Vision changes related to cataracts is more typical of an age-related change.
Speaking and Writing
- New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty following a conversation. They may repeat themselves or just stop in the middle of a sentence. They may call a familiar object by the wrong name. For example, they may call a sweater a shoe. Having trouble finding the right word is more of an age-related change.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. The person living with Alzheimer’s disease may put a commonly used item in an unusual place. They often accuse others of stealing items from them when they cannot find them. For example, they may put their shoes in the refrigerator. Misplacing things from time to time and having to retrace your steps to find them is more of an age-related change.
Decision Making Skills
- Decreased or poor judgment. They may show poor judgment and decision-making skills. For example, they start to forgo grooming and may wear clothes that belong to their spouse. A person may make a bad decision or mistake occasionally and this is more of an age-related change.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person living with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty in conversing with others. As a result, they tend to withdraw from social activities. They may have difficulty keeping up with their favorite sport or hobby. Sometimes, we may feel uninterested in family or social obligations. This can be more of an age-related change.
Mood or Personality Changes
- Changes in mood and personality. A person living with Alzheimer’s may have mood and personality changes. It is common for them to become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. Having a routine and becoming irritable when your routine is disrupted can be more of an age-related change.
If you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, it can be scary. Some people may deny these changes happening to them. It is important to contact your health care provider for further evaluation.
At AseraCare, we know and understand that many people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are cared for by unpaid caregivers. We have partnered with Second Wind Dreams to provide a virtual dementia experience to the public to give a glimpse into the life of someone living with dementia. Learn more about how our care teams are specially trained to care for your loved ones who are dealing with dementia at the end of life here. Reach out to your local AseraCare agency for more information on dates and times to experience the tour.
(n.d.) 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs