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Know the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease before heading home for the holidays
Early detection empowers families to plan for the future
The holiday season is a time families gather and spend quality time with loved ones. It is also a time that can raise questions about the cognitive health of aging family members. With Alzheimer’s disease in particular, it is important to know what it is and what it is not normal aging. Below is a list of warning signs along with examples of normal aging. If you notice any of the warning signs in your aging family members, it is recommended that you see a doctor.
Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on one’s own.
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.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. People 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 they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock").
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
8. Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove 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 may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
10. 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.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support service. Additional benefits to early diagnosis are as follows:
Benefits of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800.272.3900. Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health as well as from family members and friends who may be concerned about a loved one and are seeking resources.