As we age, it’s normal to begin worrying about Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, leading to cognitive impairment that severely affects daily living.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease that older adults should look out for. However, it’s important to remember that for every one of these 10 symptoms of Alzheimer’s, there is also a typical age-related change that is not indicative of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you notice any of the warning signs below, you shouldn’t ignore them — especially if they’re significantly impacting your life. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
If you’re experiencing significant memory loss that’s interrupting your daily life, it could indicate Alzheimer’s disease.
Typical age-related change: Sometimes you forget names or appointments, but you remember them later on.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
Another sign of Alzheimer’s is experiencing changes in your ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.
Typical age-related change: Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Some people with Alzheimer’s start to have issues completing familiar tasks such driving to a familiar location, remembering the rules of a favorite game, or organizing a grocery list.
Typical age-related change: Occasionally needing help to use microwave settings or to record a TV show.
4. Confusion with time or place
If you’re constantly losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time, you should see your doctor to get assessed for Alzheimer’s.
Typical age-related change: Getting confused about the day of the week, but figuring it out later.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Some people have visual issues that indicate Alzheimer’s.
Typical age-related change: Vision changes related to cataracts.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
Stopping in the middle of a conversation and having no idea how to continue is a sign of Alzheimer’s. Having trouble remembering the name of a common object and frequently repeating yourself are also signs.
Typical age-related change: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
If you put things in unusual places and are unable to retrace your steps to find them, or if you accuse people of stealing from you, this may indicate Alzheimer’s disease.
Typical age-related change: Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.
8. Decreased or poor judgment
If you’re frequently having trouble with decision making and using poor judgement, see your doctor to be assessed for Alzheimer’s.
Typical age-related change: Making a bad decision or mistake every once in a while (i.e. neglecting to change the oil in the car).
9. Changes in mood and personality
If you feel your mood and personality shifting, this may indicate Alzheimer’s. This could include confusion, suspicion, depression, fear/anxiety, and becoming easily upset.
Typical age-related change: Developing specific ways of doing things and becoming irate when a routine is disrupted.
10. Withdrawal from work or social activities
People with Alzheimer’s might feel unable to hold or follow a conversation and consequentially withdraw from work or social activities.
Typical age-related change: Sometimes feeling uninterested in family or social obligations.