10 Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms That You Should Know

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Content updated from previous publish date.

When young people think about retirement, they often dream of leisurely days with loved ones and finally pursuing hobbies that they never had time for. What they don’t anticipate is spending their golden years forgetting loved ones’ names and getting lost on the way to the grocery store. Alzheimer’s disease now affects an estimated 6.5 million Americans and is the most common form of dementia, a general term that describes a variety of diseases and conditions that develop when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. Knowing the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s is critical so you can begin interventions to support your memory.

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BASICS ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that is associated with memory loss. You may start forgetting people’s names, have trouble remembering why you walked into a room, lose track of where you put your car keys, and more. Over time, Alzheimer’s begins to interfere with daily life and eventually impairs one’s ability to carry out basic functions such as speaking, writing, walking, and swallowing. Sadly, the disease eventually leads to death.

Here are some sobering statistics about Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Alzheimer’s is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Nearly two-thirds of individuals living with Alzheimer’s are women.
  • Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the nation approximately $321 billion in 2022.
  • Every 68 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite all of this, it’s important to know that Alzheimer’s is not a “normal part of aging” and there are ways to decrease your chances of getting it.

BRAIN CHANGES IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Alzheimer’s is associated with harmful changes in areas of the brain involved in memory, thinking, and language. Alzheimer’s has been linked to the abnormal accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles in the brain. However, findings in 2022 have called this hypothesis into question. Researchers are still investigating how these plaques and tangles may contribute to Alzheimer’s. Other brain changes seen in Alzheimer’s include inflammation, shrinkage, and low blood flow. In fact, overall low blood flow is the #1 brain-imaging predictor of Alzheimer’s.

Some of these brain changes begin to develop years or even decades before any symptoms appear. Brain SPECT imaging, which measures blood flow and activity in the brain, can help identify the changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease before a person has symptoms.

10 EARLY SYMPTOMS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. How many of these signs do you (or a loved one) have?

1. Memory loss

The most recognizable symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is the loss of memory. Forgetting people’s names, forgetting the contents of a book or article soon after reading it, and repeatedly asking the same questions are common signs associated with memory problems. One of the key signs that you may be headed for trouble is if your memory is worse now than it was 10 years ago.

2. Difficulty with planning

Is it increasingly challenging for you to make plans and stick with them? Does the idea of planning a vacation seem overwhelming? Do you have problems managing your time? If you answer these questions with a ‘yes’, then it could be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.

3. Trouble with routine tasks

When everyday chores and tasks become more challenging or take longer to do, it is a possible indicator that you may be suffering from early Alzheimer’s disease. For example, having trouble following the steps necessary to install new software on your computer, manage your bank accounts online, or cook a recipe may be signs of trouble.

4. Confusion regarding time or location

Experiencing disorientation is a common indication of Alzheimer’s. Having trouble knowing the time, date, or day of the week may be an early indicator of the disease. A 2016 study points to damage in the hippocampus of the brain, which can begin years before any signs of the disease show, as a contributor to time distortions. In addition, you may forget your location or be unsure how you arrived somewhere. Research demonstrates that the brain regions involved with one’s sense of location are affected in the initial stages of the disease.

5. Changes in vision

Many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease experience visual problems, such as trouble seeing colors or contrast. According to a 2020 study, adults with poor ability to detect visual contrast were more likely to have an accumulation of the amyloid and tau proteins commonly seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Another study in 2019 found that when taking a short-term memory test, the pupils of people with mild cognitive impairment became more dilated compared with those with healthy cognitive function. The researchers concluded that increased dilation indicated greater cognitive effort required to complete the test.

6. Communication problems

Problems with spoken or written language are common in people with early Alzheimer’s disease. This can manifest itself in various ways, ranging from difficulty finding the right words to say or write to difficulty understanding conversations. You may call a familiar item by the wrong name, have trouble finding the right word, or have difficulty following a conversation.

7. Losing things

Misplacing your belongings is commonly seen in early Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a person in the early stages of the disease may put their phone in the refrigerator, leave their wallet in the medicine cabinet, or place their briefcase in the sock drawer. In addition, people with early dementia may have trouble retracing their steps to figure out where they left the object they misplaced.

8. Impaired judgment

Is your decision-making getting worse? Are you splurging on things you can’t afford? Are you making risky investments? Are you doing things that are uncharacteristic or that go against your values? Such behavior can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.

9. Social isolation

According to a 2021 study, social withdrawal is one of the initial indicators of Alzheimer’s. Pulling away from one’s social circle may begin years prior to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Are you finding yourself seeking solitude more often? Are you turning down social invitations you used to enjoy? Are you reluctant to interact with family and friends?

10. Changes in mood and personality

One of the earliest and most noticeable signs of Alzheimer’s disease is the change in a person’s mood and personality. Depression and apathy are some of the most common personality changes seen in early Alzheimer’s disease, according to research. Other changes may include increased anxiety, irritability, or mood swings. These changes are thought to be caused by the deterioration of areas of the brain that control emotions and behavior.

Ask yourself if you (or a loved one) have any of these early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Recognizing these early signs can be important in identifying and diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and getting the early intervention necessary to protect overall brain health and support memory.

Memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

14 Comments »

  1. Hi my mom Barbara Feldmann has an appointment in March but we never received the packet in the mail. Thanks

    Comment by Ken Feldmann — March 1, 2018 @ 3:47 PM

  2. Thank you for reaching out Ken, we will contact you with the information. Please feel free to call us at 888-288-9834 for any additional assistance.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2018 @ 5:22 PM

  3. My mom has had Alzheimer’s for quite awhile. She was standing and her hip broke and she fell. She was as she had been before. After surgery it was like the Alzheimer’s had jumped 2 or 3 stages. It got worse everyday. Sundowners was incredibly out of normal.
    We were told we would get her back but never like she was. Some have told us it was the anesthesia.

    My question is what happened?
    Can food help Alzheimer’s

    Comment by Marsha — March 25, 2018 @ 12:10 AM

  4. Hello Marsha, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. Nutrition is a key component of our holistic approach and Amen Clinics. Here is a bit more information for you – https://youtu.be/bS2fl4rdS40. We have more information on this topic in Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, Memory Rescue, as well (https://www.brainmdhealth.com/education/media/books/book-memory-rescue) and a Memory Program based on this approach at our clinics (https://amenclinics.com/memory-rescue-program/). To speak to a Care Coordinator for more information, please call us at 888-288-9834 or submit this form online – https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 26, 2018 @ 2:44 PM

  5. My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer in 2016 there’s a herbal foundation in Johannesburg they cured my husband Alzheimer’s disease . Pm me i will give their details. People can search about them on Google or youtube(total cure herbal foundation). My husband faced many difficulties and was in several depression, Trouble understanding visual image, aggression ,so many,. This thing happened to him in very crucial stage of our life. PM if someone needs info or buy direct from them totalcureherbsfoundation com they cured 100% of Alzheimer with their herbal formula .

    Comment by Finlay Cedar — March 4, 2019 @ 1:41 AM

  6. I was recently impressed with a friend's decline, expressed in repetition in conversation. Then I found she had stopped taking her medication (and her caregiver let her…). She resumed it and one month later, her conversation is so much more normal! When asked why she stopped it, she "didn't know." Hey, even if only a temporary fix, any kind of fix is better than none!!!

    Comment by millicent hughes — August 2, 2023 @ 4:02 AM

  7. How much crossover is there between trauma and Alzheimer's? I have been through a lot of major trauma in the past couple of years, in particular this past year. Complex PTSD. Abuse, finding my daughter dead, Abandonment. Almost everything in this article, I have been experiencing since my daughters death. Is there a correlation between trauma and Alzheimer's? My mom did have it and believe it contributed to her death, but I believe in epigenetic and that genes don't cause disease, lifestyle choices do.

    Comment by Lori — August 2, 2023 @ 4:23 AM

  8. I had two seizers. The first one lasted 3 days ;I was completely unconscious and in the hospital. The second was the same symptoms but for only one day but still in the hospital. Now I have a hard time remembering anything; names; what i did before,etc. Could it be the beginning of Alzheimers?

    Comment by rosalyn delleva — August 2, 2023 @ 7:03 AM

  9. Some of the symptoms you indicate really could be just depression. As far as I understand, depression to be. Won't jump to any conclusions until a diagnosis is found. Thank you for the information,

    Comment by Val — August 2, 2023 @ 1:27 PM

  10. Please help me understand how to get someone to care about my brain.
    I am so scared. I just saw yet another symptom match, swallowing . I wondered why I was having this new trouble, but didn’t think this was part of everything else going wrong . . .

    Comment by BobbiJC — August 3, 2023 @ 8:17 AM

  11. I have several signs of Alzheimer’s I’m 70 years old live in Israel how can you help me?

    Comment by Dalit Tayar — August 19, 2023 @ 7:55 AM

  12. I am 80 yrs old. My brother just passed away at 84 & had Alzheimer’s. I am experiencing some of symptoms mentioned. What caught my eye was trouble swallowing. I have this problem & recently had a procedure done at Beaumont Hospital. Unfortunately, it did nothing to alleviate the problem of swallowing. Is this a problem connected to Alzheimer’s? I also have Spasmodic Dysphonia & had Botox injected into vocal cords in past yrs. I no longer have this procedure by Dr. Adam Rubin . He recently checked to see if I had pockets that would hinder my swallowing. No pockets.

    Comment by Pat O’Brien — September 9, 2023 @ 9:51 AM

  13. excellent topic!

    Comment by Doug Morris — November 29, 2023 @ 2:22 PM

  14. This is also signs of ADHD, menopause and Trauma survival

    Comment by Diana — December 1, 2023 @ 3:14 AM

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