Mild forgetfulness is normal with advancing age, but healthy older people are usually good at remembering what's most important to them. There is reason for concern if they start forgetting what they were just doing, get lost in their own neighbourhood, or start displaying uncharacteristic or inappropriate behaviour. If your husband is always misplacing his keys, it may mean nothing. If he starts leaving them in the fridge or the sugar bowl, it may be cause for concern.
One of the most recognizable symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is a speech problem, such as a person choosing the wrong words, or not understanding simple sentences. Problems with numbers are also common. These are the most reliable signs of early-stage Alzheimer's disease. Other early signs include forgetfulness about recent events (loss of short-term memory), trouble with tasks such as housework or balancing a chequebook, and poor judgment.
In the later stages, people with Alzheimer's disease begin to have trouble caring for themselves and recognizing friends or loved ones. They may become confused, agitated, or aggressive.
The Alzheimer's Society of Canada lists these 10 warning signs to be aware of:
- memory loss that affects day-to-day function
- difficulty performing familiar tasks
- problems with language
- disorientation of time and place
- poor or decreased judgment
- problems with abstract thinking
- misplacing things
- changes in mood and behaviour
- changes in personality
- loss of initiative