Alzheimer's Support Network

 

IS IT ALZHEIMER'S?

TEN WARNING SIGNS

 
To help you know what warning signs to look for, the Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms (some of them also may apply to other dementia illnesses). Review the list and check the symptoms that concern you. If you make several check marks, the individual with the symptoms should see a physician for a complete examination.

  1. RECENT MEMORY LOSS THAT AFFECTS JOB SKILLS
    It's normal to occasionally forget assignments, colleagues' names, or a business associate's telephone number and remember them later. Those with a dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease may forget things more often, and not remember them later.

  2. DIFFICULTY PERFORMING FAMILIAR TASKS
    Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them at the end of the meal. People with Alzheimer's disease could prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but also forget they made it.

  3. PROBLEMS WITH LANGUAGE
    Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentence incomprehensible.

  4. DISORIENTATION OF TIME AND PLACE
    It's normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a moment. But people with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.

  5. POOR OR DECREASED JUDGMENT
    People can become so immersed in an activity that they temporarily forget the child they're watching. People with Alzheimer's disease could forget entirely the child under their care. They may also dress inappropriately, wearing several shirts or blouses.

  6. PROBLEMS WITH ABSTRACT THINKING
    Balancing a checkbook may be disconcerting when the task is more complicated than usual. Someone with Alzheimer's disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.

  7. MISPLACING THINGS
    Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in inappropriate places: an iron in the freezer, or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

  8. CHANGES IN MOOD OR BEHAVIOR
    Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer's disease can exhibit rapid mood swings - from calm to tears to anger - for no apparent reason.

  9. CHANGES IN PERSONALITY
    People's personalities ordinarily change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer's disease can change drastically, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, or fearful.

  10. LOSS OF INITIATIVE
    It's normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. The person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive and require cues and prompting to become involved.

It's important to see a physician when you recognize these symptoms. Only a physician can properly diagnose the person's condition, and sometimes symptoms are reversible. Even if the diagnosis is Alzheimer's disease, help is available to learn how to care for a person with dementia and where to find assistance for yourself, the caregiver.

The above information was taken from a brochure published by the Alzheimer's Association through an educational grant from Parke-Davis, a division of Warner-Lambert Company.