10 Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a dementia disorder that is marked by changes in the brain.  It can happen at any age, although it is certainly more likely to influence people as they age.  It is included in a category of brain diseases that lead to mental and physical deterioration.  At the moment, the exact cause of Alzheimer's is unknown. It is very difficult, when dealing with an aging relative, to distinguish on your own between normal memory loss and aging, and the onset of Alzheimer's.  The Alzheimer's Association, therefore, has developed a list of ten specific warning signs that can help you evaluate the mental state of a loved one.  Should you notice three or more of these signs in a person, it is important to have them see a physician for an evaluation.

Memory Loss

While most people have some memory loss as they age, Alzheimer's patients exhibit consistent memory loss.  This can be one of the early warning signs of the disease.  It is normal for a person to occasionally forget names of people and places and to forget about appointments or other events.  However, when people are routinely forgetting recently learned information and are forgetting more often, this can be a sign of larger problems.

Difficulty with Familiar Tasks

While we all walk into a room, at times, and forget why we are there, we don't usually forget the steps involved in a task or lose our purpose in the middle of an activity.  People with dementia will forget how to do everyday tasks.  They might become disoriented suddenly while playing a game or may forget what they were doing in the middle of making a sandwich.

Language Problems

Alzheimer's patients often forget how to say simple words, or they will switch a word with an unusual choice.  This makes their speech hard to understand.  While we all forget what things are called at times, it becomes a problem when this is a frequent occurrence.

Disorientation of Time and Place

Alzheimer's patients are quite disoriented.  They may find themselves lost in their own neighborhoods, or unsure where they are in a familiar location.  They may suddenly be unsure how they got to the place where they are, and may not know how to get back home.  

Poor Judgment

With the onset of Alzheimer's, patients begin to lose their judgment.  Someone who has always dressed in a lovely way may begin to look strange or dress inappropriately.  Someone may wear extra layers on days that are very hot, or wear too few clothes when it's very cold.  They may exhibit poor judgment towards others as well, saying things that are inappropriate or acting very familiar with people they don't know well.

Abstract Thinking Problems

While it's normal to have difficulty balancing a checkbook or adding large sums as you age, it's not normal to exhibit difficulty with numbers in general. Someone with Alzheimer's may forget what the purpose of numbers is and may not understand how they are to be used.

Misplacing Things

We all misplace our keys or our wallets at times; a person with Alzheimer's, however, may put things down in strange places and have in impossible time remembering where they are.  They might put their keys in the freezer, or their hat in the cat's liter box.  

Sharp Changing in Mood

Alzheimer's patients have trouble controlling their moods.  One minute the person may be fine - and may burst into tears the next minute or show anger for no apparent reason.  It's certainly normal for everyone to go through mood swings during the day, but they are usually grounded in something external and are a result of some occurrence.

Personality Changes

Similarly, a person showing signs of Alzheimer's may change her personality quite often.  They may appear confused, angry, fearful, or suspicious for no apparent reason.  Most people do find that their personality changes somewhat with age, but these changes would be more dramatic and confusing to the outsider.

Loss of Initiative

While age does wear down most people, a person with Alzheimer's will exhibit a sharp change in energy and initiative.  You may find them watching television all day, when they were active and vivacious before.  They may sleep a lot more than usual and may not want to do regular activities that they regularly engaged in before this problem arose.

Certainly, most people could say that they exhibit some of these symptoms, some of the time.  The difference is that an Alzheimer's patient begins to exhibit these issues more often and more consistently.  If you notice someone you love changing, and you see them exhibiting some of these symptoms, then it's important to have them evaluated by a doctor.  It's certainly possible that they are simply aging - but it could also be something more serious for which they need help.


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