The Kansas City Star
What’s typical and what’s not?
The Alzheimer’s Association lists the following 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. If someone is concerned that they or someone they know is displaying any of these symptoms, the organization recommends making an appointment with a physician to get a medical exam.
You can also contact the association’s 24-hour help line at (800) 272-3900.
The 10 warning signs:
1. MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE. One of the most common and early signs is forgetting recently learned information. Others include: forgetting important dates or events, asking the same question over and over or increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (reminder notes, electronic devices, family members) for things you used to handle on your own.
What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
2. CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS. Some people with dementia may see 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.
A typical age-related change: Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.
3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS. People living with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete routine tasks or drive to a familiar location, organize a grocery list or remember the rules of a favorite game.
A typical age-related change: Occasionally needing help to use microwave settings or to record a TV show.
4. CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE. People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and 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.
A typical age-related change: Getting confused about the day of the week, but figuring it out later.
5. TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS. For some people, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
A typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.
6. NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING. People living with Alzheimer’s 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 repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name.
A typical age-related change: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
7. MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. They may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses.
A typical age-related change: Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.
8. DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT. Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. Persons with Alzheimer’s may use poor judgment when dealing with money, or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
A typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while, like neglecting to change the oil in the car.
9. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES. Persons with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, they may withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.
A typical age-related change: Sometimes feeling uninterested in family or social obligations.
10. CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY. Persons with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.
A typical age-related change: Developing specific habits and routines and becoming irritable when they are disrupted.
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