Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida
The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It
may be a symptom of Alzheimer's, a fatal brain disease that causes a
slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Every individual
may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you
notice any of them, please see a doctor.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially
forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting
important dates or events; asking for the same information over and
over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic
devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and
follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a
familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have
difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did
What's a typical age-related change? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
People with Alzheimer's
often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have
trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or
remembering the rules of a favorite game.
What's a typical age-related change? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the
passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is
not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or
how they got there.
What's a typical age-related change? Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having
vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty
reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of
perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the
room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.
What's a typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.
New problems with words in speaking or writing
People with Alzheimer's
may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in
the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they
may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems
finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a
"watch" a "hand-clock").
What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
A person with
Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose
things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again.
Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more
frequently over time.
What's a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.
Decreased or poor judgment
People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or
decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing
with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less
attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
What's a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.
Withdrawal from work or social activities
person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies,
social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble
keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a
favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes
they have experienced.
What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
Changes in mood and personality
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They
can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may
be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they
are out of their comfort zone.
What's a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
New Diagnostic Tool May Change the Definition of Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's is sneaky. It doesn't
show outward symptoms until the disease has been damaging the brain for years.
Scientists believe brain changes begin 10 to 20 years before any clinically
detectable signs or symptoms of forgetfulness appear. Currently, the only way
to positively determine that a patient had Alzheimer's Disease is to identify
the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain at autopsy. Some people develop some
plaques in their brain tissue as they age. However, the AD brain has many more
plaques in particular brain regions. It is still not known whether amyloid
plaques themselves cause AD or whether they are a byproduct of the AD process.
The Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida's Commercial
Learn more about The Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida.
Please click the MOVIE icon to the left to watch the short video.
The Alzheimer's Project
HBO's "THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT" takes a look at the faces behind the
disease - and the forces leading us to find a cure. This multi-platform
series reveals groundbreaking Alzheimer discoveries and the effects
this debilitating and fatal disease has on those with Alzheimer's and
As the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's
care, support and research, the Alzheimer's Association has been an
active partner in "THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT," providing expert insight
and leading community engagement.
copies of The Alzheimer's Project films are provided by HBO in the
order in which they were first shown in May 2009. These films can be
viewed below, and are listed in the following order:
"The Memory Loss Tapes" (85 minutes)
"Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am? With Maria Shriver" (30 minutes)
FM Reporter, John Davis, provides an audio account of the development of the Virtual Dementia Tour. Listeners will be provided an opportunity to hear medical staff and caregiver experiences during their participation.
Please click the SOUND icon on the left to listen to this interview.
Getting Smart with the Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida:
Dr. Schaerf on CBS WINK News on Early Detection in Alzheimer's Disease: