It’s normal to forget things from time to time, especially as we grow older. Everyone experiences occasional forgetfulness such as misplacing their keys or forgetting which word they want to use in a conversation, and instances of memory loss may become even more frequent among aging adults. While occasional memory lapses can be frustrating, they aren’t usually a sign of a serious condition like Alzheimer’s disease, which involves a slow decline in one’s memory, thinking skills, and reasoning.
The truth is, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between normal age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. However, learning the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can help you know when an older loved one needs help. Here are some of the most common early signs Alzheimer’s disease to look for, according to the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Memory loss that affects daily life
One of the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s is forgetting recently learned information. If your loved one frequently forgets names, important dates or events, or asks for the same information over and over again, they may be experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following a plan or solving problems. Completing basic activities may take them much longer than it did before. For instance, they may struggle to follow a recipe, make a grocery list, or keep track monthly bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
Alzheimer’s disease can make it difficult to complete daily tasks. People with Alzheimer’s may have problems driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules to a favorite game.
- New problems with words
Those with Alzheimer’s often experience trouble with words. They may forget everyday vocabulary or mistakenly use the wrong word, making it difficult to understand their speech or writing. Over time, their communication abilities can diminish more and more as a result of Alzheimer’s.
- Confusion with time and place
People with Alzheimer’s may lose track of the passage of time. Five minutes can seem like hours to someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s also common for people with Alzheimer’s become disoriented and forget how they got somewhere.
- Poor or decreased judgment
Another sign of Alzheimer’s is reduced judgment or poor decision-making. Someone with Alzheimer’s might make poor financial decisions or pay less attention to their normal grooming habits.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
People with Alzheimer’s may misplace everyday items and forget how to retrace their steps to find them again. Some people may even begin put things in unusual places or accuse others of stealing their belongings after they misplace them.
- Changes in mood, behavior, and personality
Alzheimer’s can cause sudden mood swings and changes in one’s personality. People living with Alzheimer’s can become easily confused, upset, anxious, or irritable, especially if their routine is disrupted.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Some people with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in their visual processing and ability to judge distance. This may cause problems when driving or reading.
- Withdrawing from social activities
Sadly, people with Alzheimer’s often remove themselves from social activities. They may feel embarrassed about the changes they’ve experienced, or try to hide their symptoms from family and friends. If your loved one has recently started withdrawing from the activities or hobbies they used to love, it could be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.
If you notice one or more of these warning signs, don’t hesitate to contact your loved one’s doctor. An early diagnosis will help your family plan for the future. One option to consider is moving your loved one to a senior living community that offers memory care and support. These communities specialize in helping older adults with memory conditions live a better quality of life by providing care and support in a secure, comfortable living environment.