How Do You Know If You’re Developing Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease

Wondering where your glasses are when just moments before you placed them on top of your head, forgetting about an appointment…you know the drill. You might have an overwhelming to-do list and as a result get distracted and overlook a task. Common memory malfunctions are part of being human and happen to us all from time-to-time, but what if your memory issues go beyond occasional forgetfulness? A sharp memory is invaluable, and if it starts to fade can be devastating. Testing your risk and understanding how to prevent memory loss is possible and empowers you to make changes that can preserve your memory function for years to come.

A sharp memory is invaluable, and if it starts to fade can be devastating. Testing your risk and understanding how to prevent memory loss is possible and empowers you to make changes that can preserve your memory function for years to… Click To Tweet

WHAT IS ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE VS. DEMENTIA?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably, but they are different. Dementia is an umbrella term for neurodegenerative disorders that impair memory and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 60-80% of all cases. Alzheimer’s Association statistics are staggering: More than 6 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to jump to about 13 million by 2050.

Educating yourself on the early warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be really helpful in understanding more about the disease and your individual risk. Keep an eye out for the following.

15 WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

1. Your memory is not as sharp as it was 10 years ago.

While declining memory is not always a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s and can be a normal part of aging, it’s good to notice more significant changes in your memory functioning and keep track of how often it’s happening.

2. You read a book or an article but don’t remember much of it.

Research in Brain and Language suggests that reading comprehension declines in people with dementia and should be monitored. By itself, having difficulty remembering what you read could be a sign of other issues, but it’s important to rule out Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia if it’s happening frequently, over a period of time.

3. Your vocabulary is getting worse.

You might notice a shift in recalling words when you’re describing something or telling a story. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it is common to forget the right word or even a person’s name with whom you’re familiar.

4. You’re having trouble remembering to consistently take medications or supplements.

A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society noted that people who suffer from dementia—even in the early stages of the syndrome—can forget to take medications. Of course, this is potentially dangerous and requires the right kind of care and support, as well as proper diagnosis.

5. You frequently misplace your keys or phone.

Your life may be full and your calendar booked every day for the next month. It’s easy to be forgetful in the midst of a busy lifestyle; however, if you notice a pattern of misplacing important items that you use every day, take note of this and consider how other areas of your life might also be affected by forgetfulness.

6. You often wonder why you came into a room.

How frustrating is it when you walk into a room and wonder what you’re doing there? You try to backtrack and remember what you needed or were going to do, but you just can’t recall. Be careful to note if this is happening consistently as it is a symptom of compromised memory function.

7. Decreases in decision-making or judgment.

Data from a 2016 study show impaired decision-making in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. While there are subtleties in the types of decision-making and judgment that are compromised, overall this type of behavior can be really difficult to live with and potentially dangerous if it involves safety issues such as driving a car.

8. You’re embarrassed by forgetting appointments.

You’re casually enjoying lunch with a friend when you get a phone call from your doctor’s office. You excuse yourself and take the call, only to find out your annual eye exam was scheduled at the same time as your lunch. While on the call, the doctor’s office scheduler reminds you this had happened a couple of weeks back as well when you forgot about that appointment, and you have no recollection of scheduling either exam. You’re baffled but also alarmed that you’ve forgotten not just a single appointment but rather several of them.

9. You have problems with physical balance.

A study conducted in 2016 suggests that those who tested low on physical performance such as walking and “standing balance” were more at risk of developing dementia. While compromised balance can occur for myriad reasons that need to be ruled out, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia and should be investigated thoroughly.

10. You struggle to keep track of time and dates.

Something as simple as remembering what day of the week it is can prove challenging for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Various researchers have studied this specific symptom of cognitive decline, and a peer-reviewed study in the journal Technology in Dementia Care noted that people with dementia can become more disoriented with the construct of time as the condition worsens.

11. You get lost and have trouble driving to familiar locations.

Many years ago before GPS systems were readily available, drivers relied on a map book called the Thomas Guide. Since all maps couldn’t fit on one page, there was a lot of moving around page-to-page to connect the dots of a route. It was confusing for many but definitely got the job done if you were lost in an unfamiliar part of town. Nowadays we have the technology to help us with unfamiliar routes, but when the territory is familiar and you still feel confused about where you’re going, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.

12. You have trouble completing daily tasks, such as difficulty paying bills.

In a National Institute on Aging article, it’s stated that problems handling tasks such as bill paying can be the first noticeable sign of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, people might not open bills and other mail and have funds missing from their accounts for no clear reason, with an inability to recall where the money went.

13. Social withdrawal.

If you were once a social butterfly and have noticed that you’re less enthusiastic or uninterested in being with people, it could be due to a number of factors. However, if this is becoming more pronounced in your life and occurring in conjunction with other symptoms listed in this article, it could be connected to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

14. Changes in mood or personality.

The person you once were seems to have gone away. For example, if you had an easygoing temperament and were mostly quiet, then over time find that you’re easily angered or overwhelmed by external stimuli (i.e., loud noises or crowded places), it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

15. Having to rely on electronic reminders.

There is robust data that show memory aids and reminders are helpful for those with diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, but if you’ve yet to be properly diagnosed it can be tricky to implement this kind of tool. Of course, you have to remember to use the electronic aid for it to work, but if you notice that you can’t remember what your schedule is without checking (and re-checking) your calendar, there could be a bigger issue at hand than just mild forgetfulness.

While many of the symptoms noted might not be a sign of Alzheimer’s on their own, grouped together they could be indicators of a memory issue that needs further attention. It’s important to assess any underlying causes of memory problems, many of which are treatable with the right care. A Memory Rescue plan can help you overcome many common causes of forgetfulness. Before deciding the best plan of action, memory assessments are helpful in determining the next steps. Help, support, care, and repair can be made for people suffering from memory loss.

Memory loss 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.

13 Comments »

  1. Many of these “potential signs” can be lifelong challenges to those who have ADHD. How does one tell the difference?

    Comment by Emily — March 7, 2022 @ 4:29 AM

  2. Im only 53 and have compound PTSD. Could this be why I’m showing manÿ of the symptoms listed? My mother as well as her two sister all sugferef from either Dementia and/or Alzheimers.

    Comment by Kristi Colbert — March 7, 2022 @ 5:08 AM

  3. Having some of these issues , not sure were to go to find out if it is Alzheimer’s

    Comment by Cecilia Howard — March 7, 2022 @ 6:06 AM

  4. I used to have a superior memory. Never had to write anything down. Appointments, phone numbers, schedules, everything was right in my memory banks. Now, I am panicked. I often search for words, and forget what day and time my appointments are, even though I reminded myself yesterday that I have one today.
    I have occasionally mentioned this to my PCP, and she always gives me the basic dementia test (draw a clock, etc.). I ace that test, because it’s designed for advanced cognitive loss. She seems unconcerned with my symptoms. Maybe I need to be insistent on further testing.

    Comment by Linda — March 7, 2022 @ 6:57 AM

  5. I am finding time is not your friend as you approach 80 and have also noted that the USA is woefully deficient in addressing the needs of their aging population

    Comment by Yoshiko Perry — March 7, 2022 @ 7:29 AM

  6. When I’m stressed by a bill, time, having to leave
    my house, people request my help or something unexpected happens I get stressed out. I put off the decision or judgment. I have to have more time to think about it. Then I usually do make a decision. I don’t like confrontation. Many of my family are very aggressive. They demand their privacy but will not give me peace. I just made the judgment after my parents died that they do not care, but when they want to communicate oh brother! I decided to call if they call me. Write only if they write me. I visited them many years and I’m not travelling anymore. I hate the airplane in Philadelphia. The ATS were so rude to me. They take me out of line and inspect me in an office far from the security check station. I usually forgot a barrette in my hair or a coin in
    my pocket. They embarrassed me so much that I never went home to Pa again. My Dad understood. He and Mom stopped visiting me 30 yrs ago. I don’t gift anymore either. My husband and I always sent the cheese packages for the holidays many years. They don’t gift us so I stopped that too. It’s like our parents died so everyone and everything stopped relating.
    I’m too responsible person so now I don’t do anything either. I cared about my family s long time. Much longer than they ever did. For example I went up For 12 years to visit my niece.
    Grandmom and I took her to movies, mall, bookstore and restaurant. My kids got treated a few times camping and out to dinner. Once in Philadelphia to museum and a fair. But that was a very long time ago. The birthday cards for them stopped too at age 12. I was told I had to give her 100. Savings bond for her birthday. I asked my neice how she liked the clothes I sent her. She didn’t even see them. My sister in law is a big money and gift snob. She sold my gifts at a flea market. They were bought at Lord Taylor’s where I worked. She hurt our feelings somany times. My brother won’t say a thing to her. I think he’s afraid of his wife. She’s a screamer.
    No I don’t miss my family anymore. I only wish I made the judgment call about them years ago and decided to stop visiting them in 2001 when
    Mom died. She’s the only one who loved us and wanted to see us. I wish I listened tomany friends who advised me to travel to other cities and only go home every 5 yrs. I wouldn’t have the hurt feelings today and I would have a lot more money. Travelling home costs a lot of money by plane train or car and the danger of driving with small children. They told me they were controlling me. I was an adult with my own family home job and my community. They all
    decided when their kids were young to not let
    their family demand they do all the travelling just because they moved away. It’s not fair and it still hurts me. I’m trying Dr Amen and Tana. Your program about the hurting child reached me. I don’t let my sisters and brothers treat me like that anymore. I’m finally demanding my peace and my privacy. I feel good about that. It’s not in
    my control. I also told my Dad too. Enough!
    Thank you. I live 1200 miles aworay. Dad told me 2010. Nobody wants to visit Florida. Too hot!
    It’s too cold for me in Pa.

    Comment by Donna Hopcraft — March 7, 2022 @ 8:42 AM

  7. I’m having trouble remembering names and remembering places where my husband says we’ve been! I had cognitive test and second time they said I improved!! I don’t remember anything after I read ! I’m turning 82 in May! I’m really afraid!! I’m very busy with church and many things in our community! Any suggestions??

    Comment by Elaine — March 7, 2022 @ 1:35 PM

  8. I found this extremely helpful. I have my best friend diagnosed with dimentia, and not sure if I should correct her when she says something truly wacky. She just turned 84, I’m 78 and worried that I’m experiencing some of her same issues. Where do I find out weather I’m just experiencing signs of aging or I’m getting dementia?

    Comment by Thelma Wright — March 8, 2022 @ 12:31 PM

  9. I started to show signs of Alzheimer’s since my late 30’s. It’s such a tearful embarrassment to me on my job. It’s genetic with me since both my parents had dementia. Please help me.

    Comment by Avionne Cooper — March 10, 2022 @ 3:23 PM

  10. My letter is to Donna Hopcraft, from a previous comment. You have worked so hard for your families love and approval. I am saddened by their lack of emotional support. In my 63 years of figuring out things, I have an observation. It seems if we have extreme traits, we unconsciously draw others to us to teach us how to find balance. It sounds like you are working on that. You don’t have to give up on them completely, you just have to reset your boundaries. As an example, I don’t like feeling cut of from my family and friends so I work to keep communication lines open; Christmas cards, txt, Facebook and let go expecting a response. You are loving and don’t give that up but seek your emotional substance with those whose love you feel. Create your own family. You pick your friends. Your family is for lessons.

    Comment by Cat — March 14, 2022 @ 12:33 PM

  11. Hello Avionne, thank you for reaching out. For more information about SPECT scans and our services, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://www.amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 14, 2022 @ 6:05 PM

  12. Unfortunately, no one is immune from the risk to get Alzheimer’s, but it is not always so easy to recognize the symptoms and understand in the early stages that you are developing Alzheimer. Of course, it is really important to match all these signs with yourself and approach this seriously in order not to let everything take its course. Really often people can underestimate some of these symptoms and can chalk them up to fatigue or high stress, but, unfortunately, it is not order of things. I think that the first point is really significant because you need to be able to track the memory functioning. It is important ti notice changes because you also should realize the degree of memory deterioration. Having all these symptoms in aggregate can be a warning sign that you need to check your health and take certain measures in order not to exacerbate the situation.

    Comment by Marina Teramond — March 15, 2022 @ 6:50 AM

  13. My mother and grandmother both had Alzheimer’s and dementia, both having passed away due to it. Where and how do I find out if I am beginning to get this disease also? I’ve been noticing “little” things occasionally. Also, what if anything can be done about both? Thank you so much.

    Comment by Deana L. Wells — April 2, 2022 @ 7:29 AM

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