June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging families to talk about memory and cognition concerns sooner. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. As with virtually any disease, an early diagnosis may offer the opportunity for medical and/or lifestyle interventions that slow down the progression of symptoms. Early testing can also help determine if someone’s cognitive changes are truly the result of Alzheimer’s or another condition.
Here are 10 warning signs listed by the Alzheimer’s Association1:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life: One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is forgetting recently learned information. Other symptoms include 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 that used to be handled alone.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems: Some people 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. Focus may be lacking and simple tasks may take much longer to complete.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure: For example, sometimes people may get lost going to a familiar location, be unable to manage a budget at work or forget the rules of a favorite game.
- Confusion with time or place: People with Alzheimer’s find it difficult to track time. They may only understand something that is happening immediately. They may forget where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships: For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing: Following or joining a conversation may become challenging. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and be unable to continue. They may say the same thing over and over. They may call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps: A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. They may put things in unusual places (e.g., putting a wallet in the refrigerator). When they can’t find things, they may accuse others of stealing.
- Decreased or poor judgment: For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. Their appearance may suffer as they become less aware of cleanliness and tidiness.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities: They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social situations because of the changes they have experienced.
- Changes in mood and personality: There may be an increase in feelings of confusion, suspicion and depression as well as fearfulness or anxiety. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in unfamiliar places.
Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of the elderly. Many people with early onset are in their 30s, 40s and 50s. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 people have early onset.2 But, can Alzheimer’s be prevented? There are no clear-cut answers yet, but promising research is under way. The Alzheimer’s Association continues to fund studies exploring the influence of exercise, diet, social and mental stimulation, and other factors in the development of Alzheimer’s.3
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*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.