Who hasn’t walked into a room only to forget why they entered it? Everyone forgets things. Sometimes behaviors related to normal aging can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s.
But, what if someone forgets names, dates, and people too often?
It’s cause for concern. Alzheimer’s begins with small signs. It can be forgetfulness, an odd behavior, or confusion. Beyond forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s can lead to dangerous behaviors.
People with Alzheimer’s or dementia have accidents. They wander and get lost. They can put themselves and others at risk.
If you suspect someone’s forgetfulness or behaviors are serious, take action.
Did you know there’s an Alzheimer’s test you can give or take at home? It isn’t a blood or saliva test. It’s a screening test to identify risks.
The first step is to learn the warning signs of Alzheimer’s. Once you’re familiar, look for indicators in your loved one’s behavior. If you see signs on a regular basis, consult a medical professional.
Let’s look at the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease. Loss of memory is the most well-known symptom.
Yet, Alzheimer’s and other dementia affect the brain’s ability to think and reason. Here are 10 signs and symptoms that indicate Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
1. Memory Loss
Memory loss is the most common symptom. It occurs early in the disease. Often, it’s the first sign there’s a problem.
If someone keeps forgetting new information like dates, events, and names, it could be dementia. Repeating the same question over and over is a sign. So is relying on others to handle easy tasks.
Pay close attention if memory loss causes problems in everyday life.
It’s normal to forget a name or event and remember it later. It’s Alzheimer’s when you can’t recall the information or the fact you forgot it in the first place.
2. Unable to Plan or Solve Problems
Another sign is trouble following a plan. Making a plan and executing it is a challenge. A person with Alzheimer’s can’t complete a straight-forward task like paying a bill. It’s more severe than making an occasional error in calculations.
Another sign is when something a person has done for years becomes difficult. For example, an accomplished gardener can’t pick tomatoes, or dig a hole for a plant.
3. Trouble with Familiar Tasks
When Alzheimer’s is present, a person has trouble driving to a familiar place. They may forget how to manage their checkbook. They don’t recall the rules to a familiar card game.
It’s normal for older people to need help with computers and electronic equipment. It isn’t normal to forget the route to your best friend’s house.
4. Confused About Time and Place
A major sign is losing track of time. Someone who doesn’t know what day, year, or time of year it is, may have Alzheimer’s. They may not understand the passage of time.
Some people with dementia forget where they are. They may forget how they reached a destination, right after they arrived. People with Alzheimer’s can get lost on their own street.
This behavior is more extreme than forgetting the day of the week, then recalling it.
5. Problems with Language
Someone with Alzheimer’s struggles with conversation. They may repeat themselves. They may stop speaking mid-sentence because they don’t know what to say next.
They confuse words. The right word for the situation eludes them. They call things by the wrong name. Or, they use inappropriate words in conversation.
It’s more serious than forgetting a word once in a while.
6. Misplacing Things
Anyone can misplace their keys or wallet. But, someone with Alzheimer’s can’t retrace their steps to find the missing item.
Hiding objects in odd places is a symptom of the disease. A purse in the freezer. The phone or remote control in the back of a closet.
The problem is the person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t recall hiding the item. They can’t find it again. They may think someone stole it.
This behavior increases as the disease progresses.
7. Poor Judgement
Someone with Alzheimer’s has compromised decision-making skills. They may give away money. They may add a toxic ingredient to a recipe.
Their judgment is distorted. Alzheimer’s effects normal decisions about personal grooming, diet, or driving.
Someone with Alzheimer’s may choose to wear Summer clothes to go for a walk in the middle of a snowstorm.
8. Difficulty with Visual and Spatial Relationships
Many older people have vision problems. Cataract removal or new glasses can correct many issues. Yet, for someone with Alzheimer’s, trouble reading or determining distance isn’t correctable.
They may misjudge space between cars or distance to a stop sign. Trouble determining colors or contrast may make traffic signals hard to read.
Someone with Alzheimer’s shouldn’t drive. They’re a risk to themselves and everyone else on the road.
9. Withdrawal from Usual Activities
Pay attention if someone withdraws from their usual activities. Alzheimer’s makes it hard to keep up hobbies, social activity, and work projects. A person with dementia avoids certain situations because they feel frustrated or overwhelmed.
It’s normal to take a break from social and work obligations. But someone who avoids things they once enjoyed may be in trouble.
10. Mood and Personality Changes
People with Alzheimer’s may have severe mood swings. Someone who is easy-going and even-tempered may become anxious and afraid. They may get upset at work or at home. A new situation can trigger personality changes.
Alzheimer’s increases feelings of fear, depression, suspicion, and confusion. This happens because the brain isn’t working. The person with dementia can’t interpret the situation.
Take the At-Home Alzheimer’s Test
Don’t hesitate if you suspect someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Studies show most people wait three or four years before consulting a doctor. Early detection means more options for treatment.
Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE)
If someone has symptoms, take the at-home Alzheimer’s test developed at Wexner Medical Center. It’s called the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE).
The questions measure skills related to language, computation, problem-solving, memory, and more. There’s no time limit, but the test usually takes about 15 minutes. Questions include simple math and identifying objects.
You can download the SAGE exam online. Then, all you need is a pen and paper. Take the test at home, then have the results evaluated by a doctor.
How the Test Works
It’s important to realize this self-administered Alzheimer’s test won’t diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, it’s an important step in determining if you need more complete testing. The SAGE exam can reduce the time before treatment begins.
The test reveals any decline in memory or cognitive skills. The test is an excellent way to begin the conversation about Alzheimer’s. If someone misses 6 or more points on the test they should follow-up with a medical professional.
A Safe Place to Live with Alzheimer’s
If someone you love receives an Alzheimer’s test diagnosis, they need specialized care. Season’s Memory Care provides a home for seniors with Alzheimer’s to live with dignity.
Contact us today to learn more about our community and to request a tour.