Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and affects more than 5 million people in the United States. According to researchers, genetics, family history, and age are the main risk factors for Alzheimer’s. From the age of 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every 5 years, which means by 85, a person has a 50 percent chance of developing this disease. Similarly, if one has an immediate family member with this disease, it’s likely that they might develop it as well. There is no standard test to diagnose Alzheimer’s, but there are several signs and factors to note. Here are the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Memory Loss that is Disruptive
Memory loss is the most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not uncommon for a person to have memory loss as they age, however there is a clear distinction. While forgetting things from time to time is completely normal, those who have Alzheimer’s will repeatedly ask for the same information like dates, names, and events. Alzheimer’s based memory loss is also more noticeable and frequent.
2. Difficulty Planning and Solving Problems
Often trouble with simple math and problem solving can signify Alzheimer’s. This can mean a complete inability to tackle simple problems or trouble with developing a plan of action. Often, patients with Alheimer’s begin taking longer than usual to work with numbers. This could be manifested in the form of problems maintaining monthly bill payment or managing a checkbook. trouble making plans and sticking to them or following things like instructions or recipes (even those that you’ve completed before) can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
3. Trouble Completing Familiar Tasks
One of the ten signs of Alzheimer’s is having difficulty completing familiar, daily tasks. This could mean getting lost on the way to a place you frequent or having trouble with an ordinary, daily task at work. Natural aging typically makes it more difficult to find new or unfamiliar things, but Alzheimer’s-related memory loss generally makes it hard to remember things you’ve spent even years mastering.
4. Confusion with Time or Place
Feeling disoriented or confused by places or time is a typical sign of Alzheimer’s. Do you get lost easily or forget where you are often? Do you have a hard time remembering things unless they’re happening now? People with Alzheimer’s often find themselves losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Often people with Alzheimer’s have difficulty remembering where they are, how they got there, and why they’re there.
5. Vision Loss
Trouble with spatial relations and an inability to decipher visual images is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This often presents itself in a difficulty reading or trouble with balance, determining color, driving, or judging distance. Often, vision changes occur as we age, but these vision problems typically make it impossible to complete daily tasks.
6. Trouble with Speaking or Writing
Challenges with vocabulary and an inability to follow or join a conversation is a typical sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Repeating the same stories, calling things the wrong name, or having trouble writing down or tracking thoughts is common. People struggle with trying to find the right word often, but a frequent stopping in the middle of a conversation or a difficulty finding what to say next is common of those with Alzheimer’s.
7. Misplacing Things
If you find that you or a loved one has difficulty remembering where they’ve placed items, this could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. Typically, it becomes increasingly more difficult to retrace steps to find lost items as well. Generally, people with Alzheimer’s disease place items in unusual places and accuse others of stealing as a result of being unable to locate these objects.
8. Decreased Judgment
Showing signs of poor judgement is often a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. People may make bad decisions at times, but there is a distinctive change in those with Alzheimer’s. These marked changes include spending too much time on unnecessary items, showing a disregard for personal grooming (including not showering regularly), or making mistakes with money that otherwise wouldn’t be made.
9. Withdrawing From Work or Social Activities
Often, those with Alzheimer’s find themselves scaling back on activities at work or less involved in hobbies or activities that they once loved. There are other culprits for this lack of motivation that could be distressing, so if this symptom persists, it’s important to schedule a visit to a medical professional.
10. Changes in Personality or Mood
Finally, the last symptom of Alzheimer’s is frequent changes in mood or direct shifts in personality. Moods range from confusion, fear, anxiety, suspicion, and depression and can show in many different settings from work to home, from the familiar to the unfamiliar.
While there is still research to be done regarding the cause and risk factors of Alzheimer’s, one thing is clear… if you find that you or a loved one is exhibiting these symptoms, it’s important to speak to a doctor. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this time, but there are things that can be done to stave off the progression of symptoms or ways to find support. The Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center and the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiver Center offers a variety of resources and literature for those interested in learning about the most current research.