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Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Dementia Warning Signs

Know the difference between normal memory changes and Alzheimer’s symptoms

Although Alzheimer’s most commonly affects people over the age of 65, there is a difference between normal memory changes caused by age and memory loss caused by a form of dementia. If you’re concerned that a loved one may have Alzheimer’s symptoms or dementia, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is an overall term that describes a variety of memory loss conditions. These diseases interfere with daily life tasks by impairing and reducing both memory and intellectual abilities. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for over 60 percent of all dementia cases.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that impairs the memory, reasoning, and way of thinking. It’s a progressive disease, meaning the symptoms worsen over time, eventually affecting behavior and interfering with the tasks of daily living. Age is the biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, but early-onset Alzheimer’s symptoms can develop in people who are still in their 40s.

Alzheimer’s Symptoms

1. Forgetting new or recent information and important dates or events.

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Repeatedly asking the same information; relying on notes or electronic devices for reminders for things they used to be able to remember.
Normal memory changes: Occasionally forgetting a name or appointment for a brief period.

2. Changes in the ability to make or follow plans and work with numbers.

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Difficulty following the steps of a card game or recipe; changes in the ability to do math problems or manage finances; difficulty concentrating on such tasks
Normal memory changes: Occasional math errors, such as when balancing the checkbook

3. Changes in the ability to complete everyday tasks

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Difficulty driving to a place they go often, or remembering how to play a game, or managing budgets at home or work
Normal memory changes: Occasionally needing help to figure out how to use electronics

4. Losing track of time, disorientation

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Getting confused with the date or seasons; difficulty keeping track of time and understanding future or past events; forgetting where they are and how they got there
Normal memory changes: Getting confused about what day it is, then figuring it out later

5. Changes in vision

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Changes in the ability to read, see colors and contrast, and judge distance; can lead to problems with driving
Normal memory changes: Changes that are related to the development of cataracts

6. Trouble carrying on a conversation

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Using the wrong word for things; inability to follow or continue a conversation; stopping abruptly when talking or repeating themselves
Normal memory changes: Occasionally struggling for the right word

7. Misplacing things and not being able to retrace steps to find them

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Placing objects in unusual places; inability to retrace their own steps to figure out where they put things; accuse others of stealing the objects they’ve lost
Normal memory changes: Occasionally losing things but retracing steps to find them

8. Changes in decision-making skills and/or judgment

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Falling for financial scams; making unusually large monetary donations; poor personal hygiene; not wearing clean clothes or putting clothes on wrong
Normal memory changes: Occasionally making a poor decision

9. Isolation and withdrawal

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Less participation in social activities, work, hobbies; can be caused by difficulty remembering how to do a hobby or feeling embarrassed by their memory changes
Normal memory change: Occasionally wanting a break from social, work or family commitments

10. Mood and/or personality changes

Alzheimer’s warning signs: Becoming depressed, fearful, confused, anxious, suspicious, or aggressive; can get upset with friends and family easily or when in unusual places or situations
Normal memory change: Getting irritated when their routine changes or gets disrupted

If you or a loved one is experiencing these Alzheimer’s symptoms, see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and therapies can help prolong independence. You can learn more about Alzheimer’s, stages of the disease, and treatments on the ComfortCare Homes Wichita,KS blog.

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