10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

An estimated 500,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) this year alone. At present, brightfocus.org/ADR explains that AD “is (now) the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America (including cancer and heart disease) that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.” Therefore, it behooves Sun Citians to understand the warning signs of the dreaded disease as found at alz.org/10 signs. Differentiating between AD and NORMAL BEHAVIOR (as seen in our daily lives) is outlined below:

1. MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE: This forgetfulness includes forgetting recently learned info; important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; and increasing use of memory notes, electronic devices, and family members for help. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Forgetting things but remembering them later.

2. CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS: This sign includes difficulty in developing a plan or working with numbers; trouble following an oft-used recipe or taking care of monthly bills; in general, executing jobs that took much less time in the past with more difficulty concentrating. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Making a few errors when balancing that checkbook.

3. DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK, OR AT LEISURE: These tasks can include problems in executing driving to familiar locations, managing a known budget, or even remembering a familiar game’s rules. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Occasionally needing help in recording a television show or setting a microwave.

4. CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE: The patient can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. If something is not happening immediately, there is trouble understanding it. This is the situation where a person might forget where they are or how they got there. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Getting confused about the day of the week but still figuring it out later.

5. TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS: For a few people, visual problems might be a sign of AD. These include difficulty in reading, as well as determining color or contrast or judging distance, all of which will lead to difficulty in driving. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Cataract-caused vision problems.

6. NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING: In following a conversation, these items may be noted: may stop in the middle of a conversation with an inability to continue the idea or may repeat themselves often; they may have word retrieval problems (ex: calling a watch a hand-clock). NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Occasionally saying the incorrect word.

7. MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS: The AD afflicted person may put things in unusual locations and then be unable to go back over their previous steps to find the lost items. The frustration of this occurring may lead in time to individuals accusing family members of stealing from them. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Misplace things occasionally but be able to successfully retrace one’s steps.

8. DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT: This may lead to falling prey to illicit monetary schemes. Also personal hygiene comes into play here. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: Making a bad decision once in a while.

9. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES: Individuals might remove themselves from social activities, hobbies, work projects, or sports. Disengagement may occur because of changes AD patients have experienced in their thoughts and behavior. NORMAL BEHAVIOR:  Occasionally feeling tired of social, family, and work obligations.

10. CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY: These changes may be experienced when AD person’s behavior exhibits confusion, suspicion, depression, fearfulness, and anxiety. They may be easily upset at home, with friends, and at work whenever they are out of their comfort zone. NORMAL BEHAVIOR: If having developed specific patterns of performing a task, an individual becomes irritable when that routine is disrupted.

Part 3: (next edition): Understanding AD Genes and Current AD Research / Other Forms of Memory Loss

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