The Alzheimer's Association recently reported in its 2020 Alzheimer's Report: Facts and Figures, that 5.8 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from the disease. By 2050, that number is expected to more than double to 13.8 million people!
The Alzheimer's Association has published a handy guide to helping people identify the early signs of Alzheimer's disease. While it's common to experience some memory loss (so don't panic about misplacing your keys yet!), if those changes get in the way of your daily life, it may merit being looked into. Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging.
You may ask, why do I need to know about something I can't do anything about? Well, some of the symptoms may not be Alzheimer's related and entirely treatable. Moreover, even if it is Alzheimer's, knowing so early can give you the opportunity to plan ahead, implement safety measures and get treatment that might improve your condition or delay the disease's progress.
10 Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease
1. Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life Signs include forgetting recently learned information, repeating the same questions, forgetting important dates (like one's own birthday), or needing help to remember things one used to remember on one's own.
2. Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems If you have trouble following a recipe, or paying the bills more than in the past, it may merit further attention.
Don't panic if your phone bill has you dazed and confused or your crossword puzzle has you stumped.
3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks You may find it hard to remember how to do or complete routine tasks like follow the rules of a game you've been playing for a long time, driving directions to a familiar location, or organizing a grocery list.
Don't panic if you need help with your mobile phone settings, we all do!
4. Confusion With Time or Place You may find it hard to keep track of dates or seasons. You may also forget why or how you got to your location.
Don't panic if you forget the day of the week, but remember it later - sometimes Tuesdays really do resemble Wednesdays!
5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships This could mean trouble with balance or reading. It could also manifest with difficulty contrasting colors or judging distance, making driving difficult.
Don't panic if you're balance isn't as good as it used to be - there aren't many 65 year old gymnasts for a reason!
6. New Problems With Words in Speaking or Writing People with Alzheimer's may lose themselves in a conversation, forget how to continue or repeat sentences. They may also struggle with vocabulary, forget names, or use the wrong names.
Don't panic just because a word is stuck on the tip of your tongue!
7. Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps You may start placing things in unusual places, or unable to retrace your steps to find things you've misplaced. You may also start to blame others, possibly of stealing, when things are misplaced.
Don't panic if you can't find your keys or wallet. Sometimes you just don't pay attention or can get legitimately distracted!
8. Decreased or Poor Judgement You or a loved one may make poor judgement with money, like a large financial gift to a family member or charity, that is un-affordable. You may also find your loved paying less attention to their grooming or hygiene.
9. Withdrawal From Work or Social Activities Many people with Alzheimer's withdraw from social activities, friendships or work as they recognize their inability to hold conversations, and avoid the embarrassment.
Don't misinterpret someone cancelling plans on you as a symptom - it may just be you! Kidding.
10. Change in Mood and Personality You may experience depression, anxiousness, confusion or paranoia.
Don't panic if you get angry or anxious when your routine gets upset - that's a normal part of aging.
If you, or someone you know is suffering from any of these warning signs, you should consult with a physician. You may want to consider consulting with a geriatrician.