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Relying more and more on memory aids is one sign of possible Alzheimer’s.

A listener told me she couldn’t find the episode on the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s and since there wasn’t one, I created it. You can get more information from the Alzheimer’s Association. Their website is chock full of fantastic information.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life

Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage. Other signs include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

Challenges in planning or solving problems

Developing and following a plan or working with numbers might become problematic. Having trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills is also not uncommon in the early stages. You may also have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook isn’t something to worry too much about.

 

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

Completing daily tasks is a common warning sign. Following a routine set of steps can become confusing and even normal things like making a sandwich become more than you can handle. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

 

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

Having vision problems can be  a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What’s a typical age-related change?

Vision changes related to cataracts or macular degeneration.

 

New problems with words in speaking or writing

Following or joining a conversation may become difficult as the brain fails to process conversation like it used to. Stopping in the middle of a conversation and having no idea how to continue is common or they may repeat themselves. Struggling with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”) are not unusual.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

 

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

Finding things in unusual places and not remembering are also a common warning sign. Losing things and being unable to go back over their steps to find them again isn’t unusual. You may find milk in the cupboard or keys in the freezer. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing or hiding their belongings This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

Decreased or poor judgment

Changes in judgment or decision-making and refusing to allow others to help manage finances or health care are typical issues. They may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers or friends and they may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Making a bad decision once in a while.

 

Withdrawal from work or social activities

Removing themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They also may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced but are reluctant to admit.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

 

Changes in mood and personality

The mood and personalities of people with 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

What’s a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.