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According to the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, here are the 10 early indicators of Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Recent memory loss. It’s normal to occasionally forget a colleague’s name or telephone number and remember them later. Individuals with dementia may forget things more often and not remember them later.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Busy individuals can be so distracted that they may leave food cooking on the stove and only remember to serve it when the meal is nearly over. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may prepare a meal, forget to serve it, but also forget that they prepared it.
3. Problems with language. It’s normal to have occasional difficulty finding the right word. An individual with Alzheimer’s may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentences incomprehensible.
4. Disorientation of time and place. It’s normal to forget the day of the week or your destination for a brief moment. Individuals with Alzheimer’s can become lost on their own streets, not knowing where they are, how they got there, or how to return home.
5. Poor or decreased judgment. Individuals can become so immersed in an activity that they temporarily forget important facts, such as that they are supposed to be watching a young child. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may forget entirely that the child is under their care. These individuals may also dress inappropriately, wearing several shirts or blouses on a warm day, or very little clothing in cold weather.
6. Problems with abstract thinking. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may forget what the numbers in their checkbook are and what needs to be done with them.
7. Misplacing personal items. It’s not uncommon to temporarily misplace a wallet or a set of keys. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may put things in inappropriate places. For example, they may place an iron in the freezer, or a wrist watch in the sugar bowl.
8. Changes in mood or behavior. Everyone experiences occasional sadness. An individual with Alzheimer’s may exhibit rapid mood swings. These individuals may move from calm to tears to anger for no apparent reason.
9. Changes in personality. Individuals often experience slight personality changes with age. An individual with Alzheimer’s may change drastically, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative. It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. Individuals with Alzheimer’s may become very passive and require cues and prompting to become involved.