10 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is very common. Scientists estimate that as many as 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Usually the disease begins after the age of 65, but a rare form of Alzheimer’s affects younger people, sometimes as young as 40. Only about 5 to 10 percent of all the people with Alzheimer’s disease develop symptoms before 65, however.The onset of Alzheimer’s disease is subtle, and the disease progresses slowly over the years producing a decline in many of the areas of intellect. This decline is termed dementia. Typically, memory for recent events is the first area affected. This usually shows up as problems remembering appointments, new names and new routes in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Also, absorbing decreased amounts of information from reading a book, newspaper or from watching TV is typical with AD.

The human mind is extremely complicated and any disease affecting it may produce a wide variety of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease may start with a variety of signs and symptoms, but in most cases, the dominate symptom is a failing in recent memory and learning.

The following is a list of ten early warning signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease:

Difficulties with memory and learning: Forgetting recently learned information is the most characteristic sign of AD. In AD, this is frequent and concerns more vital facts like missing an important meeting that could have serious results. Also, those suffering from AD frequently do not have the awareness that they have forgotten something important.

What’s normal: Forgetting names, telephone numbers or appointments occasionally.

Misplacing things: People with AD often put things in places they would not normally belong, like a toothbrush in a desk drawer, or a key in the refrigerator.

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What’s normal: Misplacing your keys or occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you were going to say.

Language problems: In a person with AD, loss of word choice may be noticeable several times a day and in AD, patients have problems with finding the correct synonym to replace the forgotten word. Many times, simple words are forgotten or unusual words are substituted. Many times their speech or writing is hard to understand.

What’s normal: Sometimes forgetting the right word, especially when tired or under stress but a normal person can usually swiftly find synonyms so that speech is fluent.

Disorientation to place and time: People with AD are frequently lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood or even on their own street and do not know how to get back home. AD patients may forget the day of the week, especially if there is little to make a distinction between the days as while on vacation. They also have trouble in stating the approximate time of day without looking at their watch or a clock.

What’s normal: Forgetting which day of the week it is or where we were going.

Decreased or poor judgment: People with AD may dress inappropriately or incorrectly for cold or hot weather . They may spend large amounts of money for unneeded, poor-quality home improvements or give away large sums to charities or telemarketers, in contrast to their prior behavior. An AD-caused problem of judgment about simple matters is usually obvious to others.

What’s normal: Making questionable decisions from time to time.

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Decreased problem-solving skills: AD patients have problems with balancing a checkbook or with organizing things like cooking dinner for a large number of people. They may become overwhelmed by shopping for an unusually large number of guests, or calculating how to seat people at the table. Sometimes, they forget what numbers are for and how they should be used.

What’s normal: Finding it challenging sometimes to balance a checkbook.

Difficulty with Familiar Tasks: AD patients perform simple, everyday tasks and activities with increasing difficulty and frequently leave them unfinished.

What’s normal: Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you were going to say.

Loss of initiative: People of AD frequently display loss of initiative or willpower and spontaneity. They may slowly withdraw from work and social obligations and be increasingly less active during family gatherings. They become very passive, watching TV for hours, sleeping more than usual and spending time passively on tasks with low productivity.

What’s normal: Sometimes feeling tired of social and work obligations.

Changes in mood and behavior: Someone with AD may show rapid mood swings. Rapid swings from calm to tears or from calm to anger may occur for no apparent reason.

What’s normal: Feeling sad or moody occasionally.

Personality changes: Personality may slightly alter with age, but people with AD may demonstrate profound changes, becoming extremely suspicious, greedy, extremely confused or unreasonably generous, fearful or aggressive. They frequently become very dependent on a family member.

What’s normal: A person’s personality does change somewhat with age.