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June 03, 2021

Six early signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementia

Mental Health Dementia

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Did you know that 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia? Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. It’s the most common form of dementia and can develop from multiple factors, such as age, genetics, lifestyle and environment.

There are signs and symptoms that may be indicative of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. When detected early, treatments can be explored that may provide some relief of symptoms and help individuals maintain a level of independence longer. Early detection can also increase the chances of participation in clinical drug trials that help advance research.

If you notice any of the following warning signs in your aging parents, family members or friends, be sure to talk with them about what they’ve been experiencing, and schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.

"Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease can improve the quality of care and quality of life for your loved one—and that begins with getting educated about the disease."

— Kristina Fransel, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Other signs include forgetting important commitments, asking the same questions repeatedly, and an increasing reliance on memory aids or family members for things usually handled by an individual on their own.

2. Challenges planning or completing familiar tasks

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. Experiencing difficulty with cooking a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills are common signs. They may also have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of their favorite game.

3. Confusion with time or place

If your parent, relative, or friend is consistently losing track of time or forgetting where they are or how they got somewhere, this may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

4. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

Some people may begin experiencing problems with their vision, which can lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. This can also make tasks like driving increasingly dangerous.

5. New problems with words in speaking or writing

Someone with early dementia may experience trouble following, joining or continuing a conversation. They may also struggle with vocabulary or familiar words when writing. This can result in a withdrawal from hobbies or other engagement.

6. Changes in mood, personality and judgement

People living with Alzheimer’s often become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to keeping themselves clean.

Other signs to look out for in your aging parents or loved ones include misplacing things or losing the ability to retrace steps and withdrawal from work or social situations. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and no way to stop its progression, early detection can provide time to discuss and make decisions around care and support needs and financial planning in order to prepare for the long term.

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month — the perfect time to get educated and join the fight to end this debilitating disease. You can help build awareness by wearing purple all month long and by making a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, which will be used for care and support services — like the Association’s 24/7 Helpline (800-272-3900)—and advance critical research in the fight against Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

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