Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (a decline in mental function), accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. While dementia is a syndrome, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that affects memory, thinking, judgement, language, problem-solving, personality and movement during each of its five stages. Almost everyone has been touched by Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe you know of a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with the disease, or maybe you are a caregiver of a loved one stricken by Alzheimer’s. If you or your loved one is experiencing the following signs, please see a doctor.
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Forgetting recently learned information, important dates (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries) or events, and repeating the same questions. Using memory aids just to remember.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Trouble driving to a familiar location (e.g. grocery store) or organizing a simple task (e.g. making a grocery list).
- Confusion with time or place. Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Losing one’s way in a familiar place or how to get there.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. Trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
- Inability to process visual images and spatial relationships. Balance issues, trouble reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.
- Problems speaking or writing. Difficulty following or joining a conversation. Stopping in the middle of a conversation or not having an idea how to continue. Struggling with vocabulary to name a familiar object or using the wrong name for a known object (e.g. calling a clock a lamp).
- Misplacing things, losing the ability to retrace steps, or finding the wrong place for items. Putting items in unusual places (e.g. placing a pair of glasses in the fridge). Losing belongings (e.g. car keys) and being unable to retrace the steps to find them again.
- Decreased or poor judgment. Using poor judgment when dealing with money or paying less attention to grooming or keeping clean (e.g. wearing the same outfit every day).
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. Changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. Withdrawing from hobbies or social engagements.
- Changes in mood and personality. Confusion, suspicion, depression, fear or anxiety. Being easily upset with family and friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s
Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be physically and emotionally taxing. Choosing the right resources will allow you to provide better care for your loved one, and for yourself.
- Seek respite care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Some senior memory care communities offer this living option for caregivers so that they can take a physical and mental break for a few days, or even go away on a vacation.
- Talk to a physician.
- Join a support group.
- Ask family and friends to help.
- Call the 24/7 Helpline @ 800-272-3900.
- Visit alz.org/georgia to learn more about Alzheimer’s.
- Take an education class on Alzheimer’s.
- Join a local Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Did You Know?
- More than 6 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s.
- Increasing age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Most individuals with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
- 1 in 3 seniors will die of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
- Alzheimer’s kills more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.
- The risk for Alzheimer’s increases if more than one family member has the illness.
- Over 11 million Americans are providing unpaid care for people living with Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s was discovered in 1906 by the German clinical psychiatrist and neuroanatomist Alois Alzheimer who noticed “plaques and tangles” in the brain of a female patient.