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Early Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

In the beginning, increasing forgetfulness or mild confusion may be the noticeable first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, over time symptoms worsen. The rate at which symptoms worsen can vary from person to person.

When experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you may be the first to notice you are having abnormal difficulty arranging your thoughts or remembering simple things.

Although you may be unable to recognize that something is off, changes may be noticeable right away to those closest to you. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in a different degree. 

10 Early Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer's 

The Alzheimer’s Association describes the 10 warning signs and symptoms that accompany the disease. If you or a loved one have concerns about memory loss or related symptoms of Alzheimer's, it is important to be evaluated by your physician. 

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life- memory loss is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others may include asking the same thing repeatedly, forgetting important dates and events, and relying on caregivers for things they used to handle on their own. 
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems- some may experience changes in their abilities to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.  They may have difficulty following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficultly completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure- those living with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete routine tasks such as driving to a familiar location, or remembering the rules of their favorite game.
  4. Confusion with time or place- people living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may forget when they are and how they got there.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships- for some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading and judging distance, which may cause problems when driving.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing- people living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining in a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue, and may call things by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps- often put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment- people living with Alzheimer’s can experience changes in judgment or decision-making especially when it comes to dealing with money. 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 and social activities. They may experience trouble remembering how to complete a favorite hobby.
  10. Changes in mood and personality- mood and personalities of those living with Alzheimer’s can change- becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily agitated at home, at work, around friends, or in places while they are out of their comfort zone.  

Understanding The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Typical Age-Related Changes

Signs of Alzheimer’s/dementia                                                               

  • Poor judgment and decision-making
  • Inability to manage a budget
  • Losing track of the date or the season
  • Difficulty having a conversation
  • Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.

Typical age-related changes

  • Making a bad decision once in awhile
  • Missing a monthly payment
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Losing things from time to time 
MedicAlert Team Member