Alzheimer's Warning Signs

The 10 Warning Signs

Some change in memory is normal as we grow older, but symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are more then simple lapses in memory.  Persons with Alzheimer's experience difficulties communicating, learning, thinking, and reasoning – problems severe enough to have an impact on an individual's daily life.  It is critical to receive information, care and support as early as possible.  This checklist of common symptoms, developed by the Alzheimer's Association, help individuals, family members and healthcare professionals recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer's.

  1. Memory Loss
    One of the most common early signs of dementia is forgetting recently learned information.  While it is normal to forget appointments, names, or telephone numbers, those with dementia will forget such things more often and not remember them later.

  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
    Persons with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks.  A person with Alzheimer's may not know the steps for preparing a meal, using a household appliance, or participating in a lifelong hobby.

  3. Problems with language
    We all have trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease often forgets simple words or substitutes unusual words, making speech or writing hard to understand.

  4. Disorientation to time and place.
    We all have trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease often forgets simple words or substitutes unusual words, making speech or writing hard to understand.

  5. Poor or decreased judgment
    Those with Alzheimer's may dress without regard to the weather, wearing several layers on a warm day or very little in cold weather,  Individuals with dementia often show poor judgment about money, giving away large amounts of money to telemarketers or paying for home repairs or products they don't need.

  6. Problems with abstract thinking
    Balancing a checkbook may be hard when the task is more complicated than usual.  Someone with Alzheimer's disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.

  7. Misplacing things
    Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or key.  A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places:  an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bow.

  8. Changes in mood or behavior
    Everyone can become sad or moody from time to time.  Someone with Alzheimer's disease can show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.

  9. Changes in personality
    People's personalities ordinarily change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer's disease can change a lot, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, fearful, or dependent on a family member.

  10. Loss of initiative
    It is normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations at times.  The person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or not wanting to do usual activities.

If you recognize any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one, the Alzheimer's Association recommends consulting a physician.  Alzheimer's disease can be diagnosed with 90 percent accuracy by a trained physician.  If the doctor diagnoses Alzheimer's disease, effective care options exist that can improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.

To talk with an Aging Options' Consultant about a free assessment for community resources and care options for people with Alzheimer's disease, call 770-362-2941.

Can a person with Alzheimer's Disease live or stay alone?

Living day to day with Alzheimer's disease requires a delicate balance between a person's independence and his or her safety.  This balance is difficult to maintain when the person with Alzheimer's disease lives alone, and you, the caregiver, have to monitor the safety of this living arrangement.  If you are living with the person it can also be difficult to decide whether or not the person with Alzheimer's disease can stay at home alone while you are out of the house.

Before making any change, caregivers first need to evaluate how well the person with Alzheimer's disease handles daily tasks.  Use the following questions as a guide to help determine how well the person with Alzheimer's disease is functioning independently and to identify safety concerns. Some of the questions only apply if the person is actually living by themselves rather than being left alone while the caregiver is out.  

Safety Concerns

Does Your Loved One:

  • Have driving accidents, even minor ones?
  • Get lost driving or walking?
  • Burn pots on the stove or forget to turn off the burners or the oven?
  • Forget to extinguish cigarettes?
  • Forget to secure the house at night/when going out?
  • Demonstrate mood swings & suspicious or paranoid behaviors?
  • Leave the house and get lost or take longer to find his/her way home?
  • Know there are firearms or dangerous tools in the house and know how to use them safely?
  • Have a recent history of being a victim of con games, scams or a crime?

Personal Care

Is Your Loved One Able To:

  1. Eat well-balanced meals and drink plenty of fluids?
  2. Dress appropriately for the weather?
  3. Bathe and toilet appropriately?

Other Tasks

Can Your Loved One:

  1. Keep up with housekeeping duties and home repairs?
  2. Pay bills on time, balance checkbook & use credit cards?
  3. Shop for, store and cook food correctly?
  4. Take medication on time and in the right dosage?
  5. Recite their current address and phone number?
  6. Additional concerns?

A person with one or more problems within each category may indicate a need for more supervision, support or a change in living arrangements.

If you have questions about whether your loved one may need supervision or other support, you can call Aging Options to talk with an experienced caring senior consultant who will assist you in looking at all of the options available.  The consultant will make an appointment at your convenience to make a visit for an assessment whether the person with Alzheimer's disease is in the home or hospital. And remember, there is never a charge for Aging Options‘ professional services.

Facts About Alzheimer's Disease

  • Alzheimer's disease affects over 5 million Americans.

  • Close to 200,000 people are battling this disease in the state of Georgia.

  • Alzheimer's disease is expected to triple by the middle of the century, making the annual cost of the disease soar to at least $375 billion.



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