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A loving woman hugging her husband with Alzheimer's, both sitting on a blue couch.

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. When experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s, some may notice that they are having abnormal difficulty arranging thoughts or remembering simple things.

The Alzheimer’s Association has outlined the warning signs and symptoms that are attributed to disease:

Early Signs & Symptoms of Alzheimer's 

  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 whey 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- tend to 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 

It is important to speak to a physician with any concerns. To learn more about Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association, our dedicated partner. The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's.

How can MedicAlert help families with loved ones with Alzheimer's? Well, we got you covered

What is MedicAlert? Well, it’s not just a medical ID. MedicAlert is peace of mind, knowing that if your loved one wanders or has a medical emergency, MedicAlert Foundation has their back – and yours. With a MedicAlert ID and membership, your loved one’s medical history and emergency info is stored, safe and secure, in their MedicAlert profile.

How does it work? Emergency response teams are trained to look for a MedicAlert ID. Should your loved one wander or become lost, accessing the MedicAlert ID number on the member’s bracelet or necklace will connect first responders to MedicAlert’s 24/7 MedicAlert Emergency Response Team. In an emergency, they will relay your loved one’s complete medical history and list of emergency contacts, providing first responders with a detailed health record and action plan.

Our Emergency response team diligently works with first responders in wandering incidents to quickly reunite missing persons with their loved ones. We transmit photos and a missing person’s report to police, hospitals and first responders, and proactively reach out to community outlets to advise them to be on alert.  With our Wandering Support service, MedicAlert has the knowledge, experience and network that has led to over 15,000 successful resolutions of wandering cases.

A MedicAlert ID and membership delivers peace of mind for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's. By helping keep their loved one safe, MedicAlert means everyone can breathe a little easier.