Alzheimer’s disease afflicts more than 5.4 million Americans, but millions go undiagnosed for many years because early warning signs are chalked up to stress and a ‘normal’ part of aging. Since 1 in 6 women and 1 in 11 men are afflicted with Alzheimer’s by age 65, and nearly half by age 85, all should be aware of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s:
Reprinted with permission of the Alzheimer’s Association
1. Memory loss
It’s normal to occasionally forget an assignment, deadline or colleague’s name, but frequent forgetfulness or unexplainable confusion at home or in the workplace may signal that something’s wrong.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Busy people get distracted from time to time. For example, you might leave something on the stove too long or not remember to serve part of a meal. People with Alzheimer’s might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but also forget they made it.
3. Problems with language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making sentences difficult to understand.
4. Disorientation to time and place
It’s normal to momentarily forget the day of the week or what you need from the store. But people with Alzheimer’s can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.
5. Poor or decreased judgment
Choosing not to bring a sweater along on a chilly night is a common mistake. A person with Alzheimer’s, however, may dress inappropriately in more noticeable ways, wearing a bathrobe to the store or several blouses on a hot day.
6. Problems with abstract thinking
Balancing a checkbook can be challenging for many people, but for someone with Alzheimer’s, recognizing numbers or performing basic calculation may be impossible.
7. Misplacing things
Everyone temporarily misplaces a wallet or keys from time to time. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put these and other items in inappropriate places — such as an iron in the freezer, or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl — then not recall how they got there.
8. Changes in mood or behavior
Everyone experiences a broad range of emotions – it’s part of being human. People with Alzheimer’s tend to exhibit more rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.
9. Changes in personality
People’s personalities may change somewhat as they age. But a person with Alzheimer’s can change dramatically, either suddenly or over a period of time. Someone who is generally easy going may become angry, suspicious or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative
It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people retain or eventually regain their interest. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may remain disinterested and uninvolved in many or all of his usual pursuits.