10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

Why it Matters

• One in 10 people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association®. 

• Know the signs: Early diagnosis is key to giving families time to prepare for the future. 

• Those in the early stage of the disease can still participate in important financial decisions.

Transamerica tkc.profilePicture Written by: Transamerica | Transamerica
07/09/2017

5 Min readClock Icon

It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of dementia, but memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging.

To help, the Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of 10 warning signs for Alzheimer’s and other dementias to help identify problems early.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of these signs, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to see a doctor to find the cause. In some instances, a symptom may be the result of another condition.

Here are the 10 signs listed by the Alzheimer’s Association:

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; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What's a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.

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. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What's a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work, or at leisure

People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What's a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

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.

What's a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5. Trouble understanding images and spatial relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What's a typical age-related change?
Vision changes related to cataracts.

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").

What's a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

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.

What's a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

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.

What's a typical age-related change?
Making a bad decision once in a while.

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.

What's a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family, and social obligations.

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.

What's a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you are not alone. The Alzheimer Association’s 24/7 Helpline, 800-272-3900, is staffed around the clock to offer callers information, support, and resources.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab and Transamerica created a free guide for families seeking information about steps they can take to financially prepare for what lies ahead, including costs of care.

Find support in your community, whether you’re a caregiver, living with dementia, or a family member of someone facing the disease. Share stories and find strength from other families.

Things to Consider:

• If you’ve noticed symptoms, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to see a doctor.

• Download the free guide to financial strategies for those living with dementia that Transamerica and the MIT AgeLab created for steps families can take.

• Call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline anytime at 800-272-3900 for information or support.

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