by Lesley Jenkins, Alzheimer’s Association Regional Executive for Northern Arizona
Currently, an estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia, including more than 5 million Americans. In collaboration with experts in the field, the Alzheimer’s Association® created a list of warning signs to help people identify symptoms that may be related to Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
Understanding Alzheimer’s & Dementia
It’s common to experience some issues with memory, thinking and behavior as we age. However, changes that interfere with daily life could be a sign of something more serious, such as dementia.
Dementia is the umbrella term for a person’s decline in memory and other cognitive abilities that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is not a normal part of aging. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s, a progressive brain disease that results in the loss of brain cells and function.
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
(It’s possible for individuals to experience one or more of these signs in varying degrees. It is not necessary to experience every sign to raise concern).
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
What to do if you Notice a Sign
If you notice one or more signs in yourself or another person, it can be difficult to know what to do. It’s natural to feel uncertain or nervous about discussing these changes with others. Voicing worries about your own health might make them seem more “real.” Or, you may fear upsetting someone by sharing observations about changes in his or her abilities or behavior.
However, these are significant health concerns that should be evaluated by a doctor, and it’s important to take-action to figure out what’s going on.
Have a conversation: If you’ve noticed any of the signs in yourself, confide in someone you trust. Similarly, if you’ve noticed memory changes in someone else, think about who would be best to approach the person. Have the conversation as soon as possible in a location comfortable for everyone involved.
To learn more visit alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs.