What are some symptoms or warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

Memory loss remains the most common symptom.

Unlike age-related changes, such as forgetting names or events and remembering them later, memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s is more profound and worrisome, as the individual is unable to recall information or events.

An individual will also exhibit some difficulty with following old routines or tasks. For instance, a baker who has always made a specialized dessert is not able to follow the steps of a familiar recipe. The individual experiencing these difficulties may also have problems concentrating or take longer to perform tasks.

Another sign or symptom is a confusion of time or place. Individuals developing cognitive impairment leading to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease lose track of time and dates, as well as the passage of time. The individual is also disoriented about where they are or how they got there.

There is also a noticeable change in language and vocabulary. Most of us oftentimes have trouble finding the right words to say, but the individual experiencing forgetfulness with simple words or who substitutes unusual words for objects, could be facing the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Abstract thinking is also a symptom of the disease, which includes trouble understanding spatial relationships and visual images, such as judging distances or determining color and contrast. The individual with this particular warning sign would have difficulty driving or figuring out what the numbers mean in balancing a checkbook.

We all misplace items such as our keys or wallets. However, an individual who is experiencing cognitive difficulties may not put things in usual places or loses things and is not able to retrace steps to find the items. Caregivers find currency hidden in the pages of book or a cellphone in the freezer, for example. Misplacing items in this respect could be indicators of the beginnings of the disease.

The individual exhibiting the signs of Alzheimer’s disease goes through changes in mood and personality, withdrawing from once-enjoyed activities and family gatherings.

The individual gets depressed and confused, and ultimately suffers from great anxiety and/or fearfulness. There is also a general loss of initiative as the individual becomes very passive, may sleep more than usual, and generally, prefers just to sit in front of a television set all day.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.