Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. If you notice any of them, don't ignore them.
Most people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease are 65 and older—and according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), beyond age 65 the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease doubles about every 5 years. Additionally, the NIA estimates about one-third of all people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer's disease.
What kinds of behavior may signal the onset of this disease? We’ve listed 10 common signs that may signal the need for a physician consultation or a discussion on how professional caregivers can help to manage the situation.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things a person used to handle on their own.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
4. Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
People with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock").
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
8. Decreased or poor judgment
People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They also may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
10. Changes in mood and personality
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
Help is Here
Do you feel like you may need help to care for a loved one that is exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s? Redeemer Health can help. Depending on the level of care that is needed, we can support your loved one in their home or in our well-established memory care community.
For skilled care in the home, families can turn to Redeemer Health Home Care. We focus on a person’s overall health, medical history, abilities, lifestyle, goals, and other factors to build customized goals that allow the patient (and their caregivers) to be active participants in their care plan. Our caring and compassionate professional caregivers visit homes throughout Philadelphia and the suburbs, as well as most counties in New Jersey. For more information, visit redeemerhealth.org/homecare or call 1-888-678-8678.
For families that feel a specialized memory care community is a safer option than home care, St. Joseph Manor, a Redeemer Health Life Care community, offers trusted and attentive memory care accommodations. Located in Meadowbrook, PA, next to Holy Redeemer Hospital, the Manor has been recognized for 20121-2022 as a Best Nursing Home by Newsweek and U.S. News. For more information, visit redeemerhealth.org/lifecare/memory-care or call 215-938-4108.