Alzheimer Disease - Ten Warning Signs

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. It affects an estimated 4 million American adults.

AD usually has a gradual onset. Problems remembering recent events and difficulty performing familiar tasks are early symptoms. Additionally, the Alzheimer patient may experience confusion, personality change, behavior change, impaired judgment and difficulty finding words, finishing thoughts or following directions. How quickly these changes occur will vary from person to person, but the disease eventually leaves its victims totally unable to care for themselves.

Is It Alzheimer's? Ten Warning Signs
  1. Recent Memory Loss That Affects Job Skills - It's normal to occasionally forget assignments, colleagues' names, or a business associate's telephone number and remember them later. Those with dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, may forget things more often, and not remember them later.
  2. Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks - Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them at the end of the meal. People with Alzheimer's disease could prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but forget they made it. 
  3. Problems With Language - Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentences incomprehensible.
  4. Disorientation of Time and Place - It's normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a moment. But people with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.
  5. Poor or Decreased Judgment - People can become so immersed in an activity that they temporarily forget the child they're watching. People with Alzheimer's disease could forget the child under their care. They may also dress inappropriately, wearing several shirts or blouses.
  6. Problems with Abstract Thinking - Balancing a checkbook may be disconcerting when the task is more complicated than usual. Someone with Alzheimer's disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.
  7. Misplacing Things - Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in inappropriate places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
  8. Changes in Mood or Behavior - Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer's disease can exhibit rapid mood swings - from calm to tears to anger - for no apparent reason.
  9. Changes in Personality - People's personalities ordinarily change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer's disease can change drastically, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, or fearful.
  10. Loss of Initiative - It's normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. The person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive and require cues and prompting to become involved.
For More Help
You're not alone in your struggle to cope with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association, Central Maryland Chapter, is dedicated to helping people with dementia and their families through services, education, advocacy and support or research.

Contact 1-800-443-CARE or 410-561-9099 or visit Alzheimer's Association on the web for additional information on:
  • Book and Audiovisual Loan
  • Early Stage Memory Loss Program
  • Family Orientation
  • Grace Kirkland Fund
  • Newsletter
  • Respite Care Program
  • Safe Return Program
  • Speaker's Bureau
  • Spouse's Group
  • Support Groups
  • Telephone Help