10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's––Alzheimer's Association

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Courtesy Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Springs LIVING WELL Magazine

Familiar with the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease? Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware that in addition to memory loss, behavioral changes like decreased judgment, difficulty in completing tasks and withdrawal from activities may all be signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association “Know the 10 Signs: Early Detection Matters” campaign is designed to heighten awareness of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and explain the benefits of early detection and diagnosis.

“Know the 10 Signs” encourages Americans to seek a diagnosis from a doctor if they exhibit any of the warning signs. Early diagnosis allows individuals to access treatment medications, enroll in clinical trials of new treatment alternatives, the ability to plan their own future and the opportunity to receive support from the Alzheimer’s Association. Early detection begins with recognizing the warning signs and talking with a doctor. Doctors can now diagnose Alzheimer’s with 90% accuracy. To understand what to look for, review these 10 warning signs:

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s:

1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life––Not knowing people’s names or where the car is parked

2. Challenges planning and solving problems––History as an accountant/bookkeeper, now unable to balance a checkbook or dial the phone

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks––Can’t make a pot of coffee or do the laundry

4. Confusion with time and place––Don’t know it’s nighttime, the season or own home address

5. Trouble understanding spatial relationships or visual images––Dark tiles are thought to be holes in the floor, often trip over curbs

6. New problems with speaking or writing––Can’t find the word for familiar objects and instead substitutes description

7. Misplaces things in unusual places and unable to retrace steps––Finds purse in the fridge, car keys in the microwave oven

8. Decreased or poor judgment––Gets easily lost driving, doesn’t look before walking onto a busy street, forgets a coat in the winter, writes large checks to strangers

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities––Quits weekly bowling league or bridge group and becomes isolated

10. Changes in mood or personality––Normally pleasant, now grumpy or always angry

For baby boomers nearing the age of highest risk at 65 when one in seven will be diagnosed, there are things that may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. While we can’t prevent Alzheimer’s, here are a few steps to help keep brains healthier as we age:

  • Adopt a brain healthy diet––low fat, high antioxidants, high omega-3
  • Exercise your brain with puzzles, Sudoku, math, balancing your checkbook, socializing
  • Stay physically fit
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk for stroke
  • Watch your sugar levels
  • Reduce your risk for diabetes
  • Manage your stress and find effective ways to relax and regroup
  • Promote good circulation

Like other parts of the body, the brain may lose some agility as we get older, however, it can deteriorate even more if it’s not taken care of. Science is unlocking many of the mysteries of the brain, but we don’t have all the answers yet.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado provides counseling, education, support and a 24-hour bilingual helpline at no cost to families across Colorado. Reach out for help and support by calling 800-272-3900 or go online to alz.org/co

There are also things members of our community can do to help support the work provided by the Alzheimer’s Association at no cost to Colorado families: Volunteer, donate, participate in a fundraising event like the Memories in the Making Art Auction or the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and become an advocate, (alz.org) joining with the voices of millions of Americans who believe Alzheimer’s can’t wait.