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Alzheimer’s Insights: Ten signs to watch for

Scott Finley

The COVID-19 pandemic has made sure we all spend a lot of quality time with our families and loved ones as we shelter in place – and the one thing about spending that much time together is you start to notice things.

I don’t mean little things like misplacing reading glasses or leaving a coffee cup out on the counter.  These happen to everyone.  However, there are some things that, taken in a greater context, could be a sign you need to pay attention.

Alzheimer’s is NOT a normal part of aging.  Rather, Alzheimer’s disease

impairs intellectual abilities and memory enough to interfere with daily life, going far beyond the annoyance of losing your keys.

Alzheimer’s is not a “one size fits all” illness.  It attacks people in different ways, but it may provide clues to its presence through one of the following 10 early signs and symptoms.

  1. Forgetting something that happened a short while previously.

Short-term memory appears to take a downhill turn.  Someone may forget recent dates or events.  They may request the same information multiple times, or call on family members or personal notes to accomplish daily work.

  1. Difficulty in solving basic problems.

Someone who has always been on track with their household bills and bank statement suddenly seems to have trouble with it.  Maybe they can still balance a checkbook, but it takes much longer to do.

  1. What day is it?  What time is it?  Where am I?

People with Alzheimer’s tend to live in the current moment.  In other words, they may have difficulty with the concept of “yesterday” and “tomorrow,” among other time related functions. Also, not knowing where they are – and being unable to tell you how they got there – is a common symptom.

  1. The missing reading glasses.

The reading glasses are found in the refrigerator. In related actions, the person with Alzheimer’s has difficulty recreating their path to look for them, and quite possibly may accuse others of stealing them.

  1. Obvious mood and/or personality changes.

The person with Alzheimer’s can suffer from – in no particular order – depression, anxiety, suspicion or confusion. Being out of familiar surroundings can also make them more prone to being upset.

  1. Poor decision-making.

This may manifest itself in several ways, from no longer trying to keep themselves clean to giving away money or showing poor judgement with finances.

  1. Conversation difficulties.

Like poor decision-making, this too can manifest itself in several ways.  Calling something by the wrong name, or repeating the same stories over and over, or difficulty in taking part in a conversation.

  1. What was familiar is now foreign.

Someone with Alzheimer’s may not remember how to drive to their favorite restaurant, make something as simple as oatmeal or even remember the rules for playing a favorite game.

  1. Vision issues.

Easily confused with just growing older is a difficulty in being able to identify colors or contrasts.  The ability to judge distances and reading and comprehension ability may suffer.

  1. Avoiding social and work engagements.

The person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to finish work assignments.  In spare time or if retired, they may lose interest in hobbies and keep more to themselves.

 

If you have a question about Alzheimer’s disease, you can always call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 for more, or visit us at www.alz.org

And just a reminder – you can get information about the Association’s emergency preparedness guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:

https://alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-tips-for-dementia-caregivers

 

 

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

 

Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org