According to the Alzheimer’s Association, worldwide, more than 55 million people are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. For Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Livingston County Department of Health encourages you to have discussions about your cognitive health. Alzheimer’s develops over long periods of time, years or even decades, which means there is time to take action.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which can provide insight on when you should make an appointment with your doctor.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life – One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same questions over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems – Some people living with dementia 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 before.
3. Difficulties completing familiar tasks – People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
4. Confusion with time or place – People living 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.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships – For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing – People living 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 trouble naming a familiar object, or use the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps – A person living 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. He or she may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses.
8. Decreased or poor judgment – Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. For Immediate Release Media Contact: Andrea Callahan, Public Health Assistant, 585-243-7002
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities – A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities, or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.
10. Changes in mood and personality – Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
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 discussed and evaluated by a medical professional, starting with your health care provider, to figure out what is going on.
For questions about Alzheimer’s Awareness Month or more information about dementia, visit here. For specific questions regarding your mental and cognitive health, contact your health care provider.
30 seconds: For Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, the Livingston County Department of Health encourages you to have discussions about your cognitive health. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the early signs of Alzheimer’s, which can provide insight on when you should seek guidance. If you experience memory issues, personality changes, or other new cognitive challenges, make an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss them. Alzheimer’s develops over long periods of time, years or even decades, which means there is time to take action