10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s You May Have Missed

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.

10 Early Signs of Alzheimer's You May Have Missed

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.

Did Alzheimer’s warning signs lead to an early diagnosis for you or a loved one? Share your story in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Bruce

    Thanks for the tips. In the case of two sisters afflicted, I found that repetitions of facts or situations in conversations were the earliest clues. In the end I rolled with the situation and was satisfied that I could tell a joke to one of them several times until I got it right, or until they quit laughing, a sign that they remembered the last telling.

  • CG

    This article is not consistent. It distinguishes between dementia and AD as though they are different syndromes, and then says that AD is a type of dementia. My understanding is that the latter is true, that AD is one type of dementia.

    • dottie.olson@rogers.com

      Reading the above 2 comments already had me confused. . Gee!! I hate to be alone for lengthly times. I forget lots of times where i left items in my place. Yes; i forget who i might have told stories or jokes to various different moments. Not much confusion. But i have become leery about going in a vehicle. Like a family car but not a taxi. I feel tired alot. Sleep alot . Lost interest in things. As i got older everyday is the same. Unless i have appts. I keep an appt book of these dates.. i get frustrated with myself & situations no self esteem. So i guess you think i fit in one of those categories. I had a heart problem 2 yrs ago.. i noticed then i had low energy levels and interest in things. So this still mean i may have early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Maybe a mental problem. Got mixed feelings

  • Bette Nordberg

    I agree that this article is inaccurate. Numbers six and seven (according to the Healthy Aging docs on NYU Langone Medical center Doctor Radio are NOT signs of dementia (whether or not it is alzheimers). Retelling stories is common in older people who have many friends, or children and cannot remember to whom the story has been transmitted. Loss of dates is VERY common in elderly persons who are not having to attend to business, social, or appointments for themselves. When every day is the same, it is difficult for them to mark their passing.

  • Asher Malcom

    1. Difficulty remembering things that just happened
    2. Inability to plan or solve problems
    8. Poor decision-making
    9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
    10. Mood and personality changes

    came here from googling. Just happened: After watching a movie and want to send the movie name to friend, but i forget the movie name. There are many things happening to me. Now when i read this article i am bit worried.

  • george burns

    I owned 2 businesses, one with 6 locations and up to 250 employees. I forgot the same crap when I was 25 that I forget now, I never remembered a client’s name, other than the ones I liked. Was always bad with directions, “would get lost even when I had been there before”. and many other things that according to these tests are all signs of the disease.
    It’s silly because none of these things in the past 40 years since I was 25, ever stopped me from being successful.
    I just don’t remember superficial things, things that don’t interest me. And I can smell peanut butter in the next room.
    I think that much of this is normal behavior, for instance I watch a lot of TV, “always have” I have seen almost every movie that comes out , “that interests me”. I seldom recognize the actors other than the star of the movie, never did. But I can tell you if I see him ten years later in another movie, so this entire theory is flawed. We remember things that catch our interest or that are important to our livelihood. I block out 90% of the “noise” that goes on around me, especially from my wife, who I am always battling with.
    My IQ is off the charts, it was in High School and still is according to tests taken recently on the web, so isn’t much of this , guess work?

    • Daniel I.

      Hi George,

      I enjoyed your story and I am sure that there are many more like yours. I believe what the experts refer to is a “loss in memory quality” with respect to one’s base line. For example, if I always used to remember “important” dates and now I don’t remember those dates as “easily” as I used to, that would be checked under item number 4 as a “potential” early sign of dementia. Of course, any given item could be a symptom of some other non-dementia factor(s). I wish dementia was just “guess work” but enough people around us have been affected by it to be so. I hope you count yourself blessed for not suffering from dementia and I hope you stay that way! Respectfully,


  • Glo

    Husband has all of the 10 points except number 4. His mother has all of them but she is 96 and he is only 65 but been a type 1 diabetic since his teens. Has not been identified as Alzheimer’s but Mild Cognitive Impairment. Is on some meds but don’t see any improvement maybe less anxiety. This has progressed over the last 7 years.

  • oneworld65

    I keep confusing items like calling a potato a carrot or onion while i am looking at it. I frequently forget what someone said to me five minutes ago or what i said 60 seconds ago. I am a 51 year old female. Is this something to get concerned about? My daughter keeps telling me i should see a doctor that she thinks there is something wrong with me.

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