The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms to help recognize the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
2 Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3 Problems with language
4 Disorientation to time and place
5 Poor or decreased judgment
6 Problems with abstract thinking
7 Misplacing things
8 Changes in mood or behavior
9 Changes in personality
10 Loss of initiative
Memory starts to decline slowly after 40. Occasionally forgetting names or the objects’ place (glasses, keys, and telephone) is normal. Normal people can occasionally forget for few seconds or one minute what is planned to say or the goal or an ongoing activity, or why they are going in that room. It is not normal to search for objects or information for hours. It is not normal to forget entirely the information that one just read. Normal people can forget pieces of information not the whole thing. When asked for something, often a person with Alzheimer, before attempting to answer, looks astonished to the spouse. Frequently a person with Alzheimer’s disease put things in unusual places (this almost never happens for normal individuals). It is not normal to find his own glasses in the fridge. People with a dementia in the early stage begin to repeat stories, asking the same questions, no matter how many times they are answered.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease begin to change the way to cook they had before during decades. They start to search repeatedly for words and use circumlocutions for common words (for example that thing for my mouth instead of toothbrush). Normal people can miss a name occasionally, difficulty they do that for common objects. Visuospatial disturbances are subtle at the beginning of the disease. The patient make errors in calculating spatial coordinates. They begins to make errors placing things in the correct spatial disposition. For example they change the way to set the table. They start to have accidents in parking the car. The objects falls when they are placed erroneously on the edge of somewhere.
Disorientation in time and place is never normal. Patients with Alzheimer disease start to become lost in new places or in supermarkets. Not begin able to indicate the month or the year is never normal. Time estimation could be difficult for Alzheimer’s patients even in the early stages and they can say to stay there since hours when, for example, only 30 minutes passed. They could show poor judgments about money and spend a lot of money in buying inappropriate quantity of the same items. They begins to make errors calculating money in shopping. Taking a decision could become difficult especially if influenced by unimportant factors. Planning and organizing becomes difficult in comparison to the usual. Planning dinner for guest could become aa very difficult task. Paying bills or managing finances produce repeated errors. Help in choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion becomes necessary. Lack of hygiene (stop bathing or wearing stained clothing) is not normal for people who used to be very accurate every day of their lives. A person with Alzheimer in the early stages can show changes in mood or behaviors and become emotional for no apparent reason. These patients can become suspicious about money, fearful or dependent on a family member. They can become emotional and irritable for nothing. An unexplained change in mood could be the first sign of dementia probably even years before the evidence of significant memory loss. Sometimes they become inappropriately jealous of the spouse. When the disease manifest the person, previously socially active and interested in reading and begin informed, may become passive and lack initiative in usual activities. These patients shows difficulty in joining conversations while this was never apparent before.
When you find some of these alarm signs in a family member or a person you know well (especially when these signs interfere with the usual activities o the person) you should contact without hesitation a neurologist. Accurate diagnosis is critical and never a waste of time when these signs appear.