Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Dementia is not a specific disease. It is an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Other conditions can cause symptoms of dementia, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies, but they are reversible.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.
Individuals may experience one or more of these signs in differing degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.
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, repeatedly asking for the same information and increasing reliance on memory aids.
2. CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers resulting in trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of bills.
3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, WORK OR LEISURE
Driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game can become overwhelming.
4. CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE
Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time often is a sign of Alzheimer’s.
5. TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL OR SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS
For some people, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s, including difficulty with color or contrast.
6. NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR IN WRITING
People with Alzheimer’s may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves.
7. MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing.
8. DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT
People with Alzheimer’s may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to daily hygiene.
9. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from social events, have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby.
10. CHANGES IN MOOD OR PERSONALITY
People with Alzheimer’s can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious, especially if they are out of their comfort zone.
If you notice any of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or a loved one, don’t ignore them. With early detection, you can get maximum benefit from available treatments and be able to explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer.
— This information is provided by the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter. The chapter is seeking skilled volunteers, experienced teachers and compassionate healthcare and social workers. For details, email [email protected] or call 216-342-5596.