Do you have a loved one that is having some memory issues? Are you wondering if it could be early Alzheimer’s symptoms? Early detection matters. Answer “yes” or “no” for each of the following and take it with you to your next doctor appointment. This information will be helpful to assist your physician with diagnosing your loved one.
Memory changes that disrupt daily life. This is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages. Forgetting recently learn information can be very frustrating to both the caregiver and the individual. They forget things like appointments, important dates and events, they repeat the same questions over and over. The individual often has to rely on reminder notes.
Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. Some find it hard to complete daily tasks, driving to a familiar place, remembering the rules of a game.
Confusion with time or place. Some individuals can lose track of dates and seasons. They don’t recognize the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some people, having vision problems is an early sign. It could be that they have difficulty reading because they can’t understand the words anymore. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not recognize their own reflection.
New problems with words in speaking or writing. An individual may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. An individual may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing.
Decreased or poor judgment. Changes in judgment or decision-making becomes evident. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to others they don’t really know. They may pay less attention to personal hygiene and not change their clothes.
Withdrawal from work or social activities. An individual may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, or projects. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They make excuses to stay home.
Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with early dementia or Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
If you notice any of these 10 signs consult with your loved one’s physician. Have them do tests to give you a definitive diagnosis. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease contact Family Caregivers Network or your local Alzheimer’s Association.