The early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) may be overlooked because they resemble signs of natural aging. However, extreme memory loss or other cognitive changes that disrupt normal life are not typical signs of aging.
Older adults who begin to notice a persistent mild memory loss of recent events may have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is now believed to be a significant sign of early-stage Alzheimer's in older people. Studies suggest that older individuals who experience such mild memory abnormalities can later develop Alzheimer's disease.
Patients may be aware of their symptoms or may be unaware that anything is wrong. The Alzheimer's Association recommends that everyone learn these 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's disease:
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life. Forgetfulness, particularly of recent events or information, or repeatedly asking for the same information
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. Loss of concentration (having trouble planning or completing familiar tasks, difficulty with abstract thinking such as simple arithmetic problems)
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
- Confusion about time or place. Difficulty recognizing familiar neighborhoods or remembering how you arrived at a location, confusion about months or seasons
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Difficulty reading, figuring out distance, or determining color.
- Language problems. Forgetting the names of objects, mixing up words, difficulty completing sentences or following conversations
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Putting objects back in unusual places, losing things, accusing others of hiding or stealing.
- Impaired judgment and decision making. Dressing inappropriately or making poor financial decisions
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. No longer participating in familiar hobbies and interests.
- Mood and personality changes. Confusion, increased fear or suspicion, apathy and depression, anxiety. Signs can be loss of interest in activities, increased sleeping, sitting in front of the television for long periods of time.