The Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is one disease within a spectrum of diseases known as dementia.i About 64
percent of all dementia patients have Alzheimer's, and almost five and a half million
people in the U.S. live with some stage of Alzheimer's disease. Though there isn't yet a
cure for this disease, there are treatments, therapies, and Alzheimer's care available for
patients and their families. Here is your guide to recognizing the early warning signs, and
what to do if you see these in yourself or someone you love.
The Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
The Alzheimer's Association recommends using these ten guidelines to help identify the
disease in its earliest stages.ii
1. One of the first noticeable signs is losing memory badly enough to majorly affect a
person's daily life. Patients might forget an important event or fail to remember their
address or phone number. They might start using memory joggers like notes or calendars,
to avoid having to ask the same questions again and again.
2. Alzheimer's patients begin to have trouble making plans and solving basic problems.
Simple calculations become difficult, and they might forget to pay their bills or even their
taxes. They also have trouble concentrating on tasks.
3. Patients begin having trouble doing things that were once familiar to them, such as
driving, budgeting their finances, or remembering how to do their favorite activities.
4. Alzheimer's causes confusion about where the person is or even what day it is.
5. Patients begin having trouble with visual images and spatial recognition. This leads to
difficulty driving, as it's hard to judge distances. They might also have a hard time
reading or recognizing color and contrasts.
6. Alzheimer's patients begin to misplace things, and often leave things in strange places.
They have difficulty retracing their steps to find lost items.
7. Another symptom is a lack of good judgment. They begin making bad money
decisions and often allow their personal hygiene to deteriorate.
8. Symptoms also include withdrawing from social situations and avoiding people or
hobbies they once enjoyed. As it becomes harder to remember how to do things, the
person might isolate themselves to hide symptoms.
9. Patients begin having problems with speaking or writing. It's sometimes hard for them
to follow conversations; they can't recall the words they want to say, or they stop in the
middle of a conversation, unable to continue.
10. Alzheimer's also causes changes in a person's personality, and frequently leads to
drastic mood swings. Patients become confused, begin to suspect people of stealing
things from them or talking behind their back, struggle with depression, or become
fearful and anxious. They may become particularly upset when outside their comfort
Comparing the Warning Signs to Normal Age-Related Behavior
Memory loss or occasional difficulties do not in themselves mean that a person has the
disease or needs Alzheimer's care. Some mental and physical deterioration is,
unfortunately, just one of the signs that a person is getting older. Perfectly normal
behavior for aging adults includes:
Sometimes forgetting an appointment or what day it is, but recalling it later
An occasional mistake when adding or subtracting
Sometimes needing help with machines and electronics, especially new or
Loss of vision due to cataracts
Fumbling over the right word every now and then
Occasionally losing something, but being able to retrace their steps to find it
Sometimes making an error in judgment, such as sending an excessive amount to
a grandchild on his birthday
Getting too tired to do things they used to enjoy
Getting set in their ways and not wanting to change their daily routine
What to Do if You or a Loved One Might Have Alzheimer's
First, schedule an appointment with the person's doctor. They shouldn't go to the
appointment alone for two reasons. One, they likely don't want to admit to themselves or
anyone else that they might have Alzheimer's. Two, they need someone with them to help
explain what they can't remember, such as when the issues started, what symptoms have
shown themselves, what medications they are taking, and their general lifestyle and
The doctor will perform a series of tests, including a mental status test, some neurological
examinations, and some imaging tests.iii None of the tests are painful, but the process can
be scary if the patient has to go through it alone.
Most families find that after a certain stage of progression, they need help caring for their
beloved Alzheimer's patient. As the person begins to become more forgetful and their
mood deteriorates, it's impossible to leave them alone in order to work, shop, and even
care for the yard or other family members. Families have a variety of options for finding
Alzheimer's care when the time comes. No family has to face this situation alone.
Loved ones with Alzheimer's disease need a special kind of care that’s given by
caregivers who understand the challenges of this disease for both patients and their
families. Always Best Care can step in to offer help to families struggling with these
issues, giving the patient the tender loving care they deserve, while allowing family
members some relief from the constant worries associated with this disease. Always Best
Care works within a network of privately owned facilities around the nation to place
patients in a safe, comfortable environment. They also help families understand how to
cope with the effects of Alzheimer's so that they can make fully informed decisions
regarding the patient's care.