10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
A certain amount of memory loss as we age is not uncommon. In fact, according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, almost 40 per cent of people over the age of 65 experience occasional memory problems. But how can you tell when memory loss is just a normal part of aging – or a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias?
Here are 10 warning signs from the Alzheimer Society of Canada
Memory loss that affects day-to-day function
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. It’s normal to occasionally forget appointments, colleagues’ names or a friend’s phone number and then remember them later. A person with Alzheimer’s disease, however, may forget things more often and not remember them later.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Problems with language
Alzheimer’s disease may cause a person to forget simple words or use substitute words, making conversations difficult to follow or understand.
Disorientation of time and place
A person with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost even on their own street, not knowing how they got there or how to get home. Visual images and spatial relationships may also cause some difficulty. A person with Alzheimer’s, for example, may have difficulty judging distance and determining colour and contrast.
Poor or decreased judgment
Decreased judgment, like not recognizing a medical problem that needs immediate attention or wearing heavy clothing on a hot day can also be signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Problems with abstract thinking
Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have significant difficulties with such tasks as tracking monthly bills or balancing a cheque book – they may not understand what the numbers in the cheque book mean.
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: QUICK FACTS
– Alzheimer’s disease is not a part of normal aging, but the risk of the disorder does increase with age. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 63 per cent of all cases in Canada.
– Dementia can strike adults at any age, but has traditionally been diagnosed in people over 65. But we now know that symptoms can start much earlier, and an increasing number of people are being diagnosed in their 50s and early 60s.
– Women represent 72 per cent of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease, and 62 per cent of overall dementia cases.
– Although genetics play a role in the disease, only a small percentage of cases derive from genes that cause the inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease.