Here's a checklist of common symptoms to help recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer's disease:

MEMORY LOSS

Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.

What's normal aging?

Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

DIFFICULTY PERFORMING FAMILIAR TASKS

People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps needed to prepare a meal, place a telephone call, or play a game.

What's normal aging?

Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.

PROBLEMS WITH LANGUAGE

People with Alzheimer's disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for "that thing for my mouth."

What's normal aging?

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

DISORIENTATION IN TIME AND PLACE

People with Alzheimer's disease can become lost in their own neighborhoods, forget where they are and how they got there and not know how to get back home.

What's normal aging?

Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.

POOR OR DECREASED JUDGMENT

Those with Alzheimer's may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment about money, like giving away large sums to telemarketers.

What's normal aging?

Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.

PROBLEMS WITH ABSTRACT THINKING

Someone with Alzheimer's disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are and how they should be used.

What's normal aging?

Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.

MISPLACING THINGS

A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places: an

iron might go in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

What's normal aging?

Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.

CHANGES IN MOOD OR BEHAVIOR

Someone with Alzheimer's disease may show rapid mood swings—from calm to tears to anger—for no apparent reason.

What's normal aging?

Occasionally feeling sad or moody.

CHANGES IN PERSONALITY

The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful, or dependent on a family member.

What's normal aging?

People's personalities do change somewhat with age.

LOSS OF INITIATIVE

A person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual, or not wanting to do usual activities.

What's normal aging?

Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.

Source: © 2005 Alzheimer's Association. All rights reserved.This is an official publication of the Alzheimer's Association but may be distributed by unaffiliated organizations or individuals. Such distribution does not constitute an endorsement of these parties or their activities by the Alzheimer's Association.

 
 
 

In this clip from the Conversations in Caregiving webcast, TV/radio personality and Alzheimer's advocate Leeza Gibbons discusses the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease with a neurologist.

 
 
 

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