Many assume they’re the same, but dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are distinct conditions. People with dementia suffer from a set of symptoms that impact thinking and memory, where Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that impairs thought, memory and speech. Although some forms of dementia can be reversed, a cure for Alzheimer’s is yet to be found.
Memory loss strikes us all from time to time. Some people call it a “senior moment,” regardless of age. Unfortunately, occasional memory loss comes with aging. But there’s a difference between typical age-related cognitive changes and Alzheimer’s.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s goes beyond forgetting to pay a bill or losing things every now and then. As the Alzheimer’s Association describes, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of growing older. It impairs memory and intellectual abilities seriously enough to interfere with daily life, and it accounts for over half of all dementia cases.
Although it affects people differently, Alzheimer’s does show some early symptoms. Here’s a list of 10 warning signs that may indicate Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Difficulty remembering things that just happened
Forgetting dates or events; repeatedly asking for the same information; and relying more and more on reminder notes or family members to handle daily tasks.
2. Inability to plan or solve problems
Struggling to track monthly bills or solve simple math problems. Taking longer to do these things may be another sign.
3. Trouble completing familiar tasks
Driving to a familiar place; remembering the rules of a favorite game; or forgetting how to cook a simple meal (or even boil water).
4. Losing track of dates, seasons and time
If it isn’t happening right now, Alzheimer’s sufferers may not understand it. Forgetting where they are and how they got there are also common symptoms.
5. Vision problems
Judging distance, identifying colors or contrasts, and having difficulty reading. Poor driving may result.
6. Struggling with conversations
Repeating the same stories; inability to join or follow a conversation; and challenges with vocabulary, such as calling things by the wrong name.
7. Misplacing things
Putting items in unusual places; struggling to retrace steps to look for a lost item; and, in some cases, accusing others of stealing.
8. Poor decision-making
Having poor judgment with money or frivolously giving it away. Some people with Alzheimer’s may stop grooming habits or keeping themselves clean.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
Avoiding social situations, giving up hobbies, or failing to complete work assignments.
10. Mood and personality changes
Alzheimer’s can produce confusion, anxiety, suspicion or depression. It can make people become upset much more easily, especially when they’re away from home.
Benefits of Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
People on the onset of Alzheimer’s may experience just one early warning sign or several – and signs will show in varying degrees. If you’re concerned that a loved one’s memory loss may be serious, consult with a doctor. While Alzheimer’s currently has no cure, early diagnosis means early treatment. That increases a person’s chances of maintaining independence for as long as possible and having a voice in planning for the future.