10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s You May Have Missed

Last Updated: June 25, 2018

Although memory loss often occurs with age, Alzheimer’s disease goes beyond forgetting to pay a bill or losing things every now and then.10 Early Signs of Alzheimer's You May Have Missed

As the Alzheimer’s Association describes, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. It impairs intellectual abilities and memory enough to interfere with daily life and it accounts for over half of all dementia cases.

Top 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Although Alzheimer’s impacts everyone differently, the disease does show some early signs and symptoms. Here’s a list of the top 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s that may indicate the disease is present:

1. Difficulty remembering things that just happened.

Forgetting dates or events; repeatedly asking for the same information and relying more and more on family members or reminder notes 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. 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.

4. 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.

5. Mood and personality changes.

Alzheimer’s can produce anxiety, confusion, depression or suspicion. It can make people become upset much more easily, especially when they’re away from home.

6. 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.

7. Struggling with conversations.

Challenges with vocabulary, such as calling things by the wrong name, inability to follow or join a conversation and repeating the same stories.

8. Trouble completing familiar tasks.

Trouble driving to a familiar place, forgetting how to cook a simple meal or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

9. Vision problems.

Having difficulty identifying colors or contrasts,  judging distance or reading. Poor driving may result.

10. Withdrawal from social or work activities.

Failing to complete work assignments, giving up hobbies or avoiding social situations.

The Benefits of an 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, an 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 their future.

Did any early signs of Alzheimer’s lead to a diagnosis for you or a loved one? Share your story with us 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.

    • 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.


      Telling the same story countless times to same person is worrisome

    • BadlandsBabe

      Agreed that this is very common in elderly people but, when, I deal with my mother who has been diagnosed with both & she continues repeating the same thing that happened, or the same story time after time, repeatedly through out dinner… Over & over… & I’m not kidding about this. That’s what dementia & alzheimers do. See the difference.

  • 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,


      • Patricia Jenkins

        I agree Daniel. I watched Alzheimer’s slowly eat my mother’s brain away. The look in her eyes when she passed in November 2016 was so “blank”. An empty shell and it’s a look you never forget. It screams help me all the while being already gone. And it all starts with a simple “I forgot to remember” heartbreaking every day task.

  • 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.

    • Bee Mayes

      yes. please get checked out. my mother repeats the same stories over and over again. within minutes of each story, she will be telling it again and again and again. she doesn’t remember she just said it.

      • oneworld65

        How do they test for that? I am embarassed to tell my primary physician because she will think I may be overwhelmed or stressed or distracted. It does not always happen but my daughter has noticed.

  • Experienced One

    I’m sure that all people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease do not have all ten signs. Currently, I’m dealing with a 92 year old father with all ten signs and a mother-in-law with all but five and nine. I do think that the article is very accurate as to what to look for. Of course many people forget things that they have no interest in and are bad with directions. I’m one of those, but have no sign of dementia as I was recently tested by a neurologist, have three bachelor degrees, a masters degree and an IQ of 154, and still can’t remember many people’s names and use a GPS to get around often. What I’m trying to say is, not everyone with dementia will have all ten of these signs, but it is very much a list of things to be aware of. One more thing I’d like to say in my rambling comments, if you are not yet a caregiver for someone with dementia, read as much as you can on caring for them, because it will one of the toughest things you will ever do. I also recommend the website “A Place for Mom”. It will really help.

  • Italianbaby!

    My mother developed dementia in her late 70’s but became it really started to intensify at the beginning of her 80’s. She would put things away and not remember where they were and accuse those around her of stealing. Then she started leaving the house saying she had to go meet friends, yet that was an illusion. Getting lost was the worst. Our neighbors found her walking aimlessly around near our church and luckily were able to rescue her and bring her home. The worst and final time was when a couple brought her home telling us how she had fallen in the street . All this time my sister & myself were in NY at work. We hired someone to stay and care for her in the house but we could afford to pay someone for the evenings which is when she needed just as much care. The final step was to have her sent to a nursing home where she lived for 10 yrs. till her death at 92.

  • Patricia Jenkins

    My mother passed away in November 2016 suffering from Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately that’s not what ended her life it was nursing home neglect Glenview Health and Rehab in Glennville Georgia. She was diagnosed in her late 70s. It terrifies me because I am 48 and having several of these problems listed above. I’ve been under a lot of stress due to job loss so it could be from that I guess. But it’s 48 too early to see signs of Alzheimer’s?

  • Mary

    I’m only 41 years old and I knew something was wrong. I had a head injury when I was 2 and I knew something had changed. I was repeating myself over and over and I all of a sudden couldn’t remember where my doctors was and I had been their multiple times but never had a problem till now. Everyone’s normal is different so if you have been the same your fine but in my case I could tell something was off. I choose to not blow it off.

  • Tsering Dolkar

    Hi everyone, i am tsering, 24 years old. I need clarification regarding my problems. Follow down is some of the things i am facing and i am wondering may be it could be one you mentioned…
    1. I read book and i am unable to keep in mind what i just read. And even the book’s name i can’t able to recall if i try to write about it in my diary.
    2. I watch lots of movies but i can’t recall the movie i just watched and can’t able to share the movie i watched to my friends.
    3. I lose things in my small room. I forget things like where i might have kept my atm cards and else.
    4. i am unable to recall very easy words which we use in our daily life. And if i could recall that even after many deep thinking then only i could able to find the words.
    5. I don’t remember what i dream. I mean i don’t dream like others. Only one dream i could remember is… i was hanging at the edge of the roof of house and my hand got slipped off. This is the only thing i remember till now. I am 24 but have repeatedly one dream. Nothing others i am able to remember than this.
    I am just wondering if its an early sign of alzheimer or else. Please suggest me regarding this. Thank you for listening my story.

  • Lana Daewolfe

    I’m almost 16 and I struggle with all of these things

  • Joshua2415

    My father died of Alzheimer 25 years ago. Well before he was diagnosed my mother often reported him having night terrors. Now my identical twin and I are having night terrors too, at about the same age he was when my mother spoke of it. Have night terrors ever been identified as a sign or early symptom of alzheimer’s disease?

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  • Maxwell

    These often subtle early signs of a downward cognitive decline may indicate the very start of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients. It can take years before symptos worsen to the point where children start to notice something is not right. Children of the elderly are also all too often in denial that a parent or other loved one may have dementia and can find the insinuation, even tacitly, as offensive.I noticed my elderly mom could no longer balance her check book at about 82. However, I did not link it to dementia at that time. As the years progressed,she slowly could not find the right words to explain her thoughts or feeling adequately from time to time. At around 84, she was handing out $ 100.00 bills as tips to the mailman and paperboy. Previously she always gave them $ 25.00 every Christmas season. Another thing to look for is being easily confused and even in a diner or restaurant they may have trouble making a selection from a simple menu.That is when i realized she had a problem and learned soon after there is no real cure,stopping or even slowing down these diseases once they start. They are always progressive and insidious !

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