Watching the ones we love grow older is difficult.
You may notice changes in their behavior that concern you. How can you tell if what you observe is typical and age-related or if these changes indicate that they are dealing with something more serious?
The following are 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s:
#1) Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Have they been forgetting important events or dates? Asking repetitive questions? Do you notice that they are having to increasingly rely on memory aids, such as notes or calendars?
People of all ages occasionally forget things, such as the name of an acquaintance. In contrast, forgetting notable events, such as the wedding of a family member, is a cause for concern.
#2) Difficulty with planning or solving problems
Are they having difficulty concentrating? Do they seem overwhelmed by even simple problems or straight-forward plans?
Everyone occasionally makes errors, but if they are unable to follow through with a task that in the past would have been very simple for them it could be a sign that their cognitive functions have declined.
#3) Challenged with familiar tasks
Are they unable to follow the rules of a game they have played for years? Do they have trouble driving to a familiar location? Are they unable to perform tasks that were once a part of their routine, such as paying bills or following a familiar recipe?
It is normal to have trouble with tasks that are unfamiliar, such as changing the settings on your TV, but getting lost when driving to a favorite restaurant is a problem that should be addressed right away.
#4) Confusion with time and place
Have they had experiences where they didn’t know where they were and didn’t know how they got there? Do they lose track of dates and seasons? Have you noticed that they don’t have a grasp on the passage of time?
Occasionally confusing the days of the week, such as thinking it is Wednesday when it is actually Thursday, is normal. In comparison, there is a cause for concern when someone dresses for winter when it is actually July.
#5) Trouble with visual images or spatial relationships
Are they having difficulty reading, determining color or judging distances?
While it is normal for one’s vision to decline with age, difficulty understanding visual images is a symptom of Alzheimer’s.
#6) Problems with words
Have you noticed that they repeat themselves, have difficulty finishing sentences or struggle with vocabulary? Are they having a hard time writing? Is there a noticeable decline in their ability to either follow or join a conversation?
Forgetting certain vocabulary now and then is normal, but calling things by the wrong name, such as “hand clock” instead of “watch,” is a warning sign.
#7) Losing things
Are they routinely misplacing things? Do they accuse others of stealing their possessions?
Misplacing your keys every once in awhile is normal, accusing a loved one of stealing your keys is abnormal behavior.
#8) Poor judgement
Have you noticed a trend of irrational decisions? Alzheimer’s can affect an individual’s critical thinking, causing them to make poor decisions. For example, they may give large sums of money to telemarketers or open themselves up to identity theft by providing confidential information when prompted. Have you noticed that they are paying less attention to personal grooming?
While everyone occasionally makes questionable decisions, falling for an internet scam for instance is a sign of the inability to make sound decisions.
#9) Withdrawing from social activities
Are they withdrawing from socializing? Have they stopped participating in favorite activities or engaging with their hobbies?
Sometimes social engagements can feel overwhelming, even to those who have an extroverted personality, but if someone insists on avoiding their normal social interactions you should find out why.
#10) Changes in mood or personality
Do you notice that your loved one has become confused, depressed, suspicious, anxious or fearful? Do they become upset or irritable even when they are in their comfort zone?
Changes in mood are a part of being human, but if there are noticeable changes in personality it could be a sign of an underlying cause that is more serious.