Alzheimer’s can be difficult to detect early on because the common symptoms could also be general signs of an aging brain — forgetting information or how to do a technical task, slower physical movements. Knowing what to look for can help with early diagnosis and treatment and management of the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association has 10 warning signs that could signal dementia, an umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms which Alzheimer’s falls under.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life, especially forgetting recently learned information. Also watch out for forgetting important events, repeatedly asking for the same information or needing to rely on memory aids.
- Challenges in problem-solving or concentration, including difficulty following a recipe or keeping track of bills. Regular tasks may take longer to complete than normal.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks like driving to a regular location, managing a budget or remembering the rules of a game.
- Confusion with time or place and forgetting where they are or how they got there. People suffering from dementia may have difficulty understanding something that is not happening right now.
- Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships, vision problems, difficulty reading or judging distance or distinguishing between colors. This may cause difficulty with driving.
- Problems speaking or writing, joining the middle of a conversation or being able to keep up a conversation. They may struggle to find the right words or use the wrong name to describe something.
- Losing or misplacing items, losing the ability to backtrack to find items they’ve misplaced or accusing people around them of stealing items they have misplaced.
- Exercising poor judgment in decision making, such as giving large amounts of money to telemarketers or scammers or other bad financial decisions, paying less attention to their own hygiene or house cleaning.
- Withdrawing from work or social activities, ceasing to participate in hobbies or following a favorite sports team. This could be because they have difficulty remembering how to participate or self-imposed isolation because of the changes they’ve experienced.
- Changes in mood and personality, with ill people becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, anxious, fearful or even paranoid. They may get upset easily with friends, family or coworkers or when they are in places that are out of their comfort zone.