10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs and symptoms to look out for:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs, especially forgetting recently learned information. This also includes forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What is a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.

2. Planning or problem-solving challenges
Some may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What is a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when balancing a cheque book.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
Often finding it hard to complete daily tasks, such as having trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What is a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

4. Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What is a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, vision problems may be a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

What is a typical age-related change?
Vision changes related to cataracts.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
Having trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What is a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
Persons with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places (such as leaving eyeglasses or housekeys in the refrigerator). They may lose things and are unable to retrace their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What is a typical age-related change?
Occasionally misplacing things but able to retrace steps to find them.

8. Diminished or poor judgment
Changes in judgment or decision-making, such as: using poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What is a typical age-related change?
Making a bad decision once in a while.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities Persons with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid socializing.

What is a typical age-related change?
It is normal to sometimes feel weary of work, family and social obligations.

10. Changes in mood and personality
The mood and personality of persons with Alzheimer’s may change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They tend to become easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What is a typical age-related change?
Having very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of these signs, please see a doctor.


Alzheimer’s Association. “Know the 10 Signs Early Detection Matters.” Know the 10 Signs Early Detection Matters. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/checklist_10signs.pdf

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