8 Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

As we get older, the health of our brain is the cornerstone of what allows us to continue to be independent. While memory loss is a natural part of the aging process, the brain functionality that deals with the speed we process information slows down. However, there is a huge difference between typical memory loss and the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Alzheimer’s is currently one of the top ten causes of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for 60%-80% of dementia cases. As the warning signs become more severe, this disease is likely the reason why.

8 Symptoms of Early Alzheimer’s

Knowing the early signs of Alzheimer’s is the key to getting your loved ones the individualized care they need. Below are eight common symptoms that someone with Alzheimer’s may exhibit.

1. Memory Loss

Forgetting things and remembering them later may be a sign of normal aging, such as when a name or a thought escapes you. However, constantly forgetting names and dates, asking for information repeatedly, and relying heavily on reminder notes or electronic devices/calendars may be signs of early onset Alzheimer’s. Along with repeating the same question multiple times in a conversation, it’s common for those with Alzheimer’s to forget simple details like:

  • Important dates
  • Names of familiar people
  • Details from recent conversations

Read more: 10 Stimulating Memory-Care Activities for Dementia Patients

Caregiver helping senior with dementia walk up stairs

2. Trouble Speaking or Writing

Observing speech in conversation and writing is the least invasive way for a loved one to monitor brain health. Struggling in social conversations, repeating what they are saying, losing train of thought entirely are big red flags. Your loved one may trail off mid-sentence or struggle to find certain words while speaking. Diminishing hand-eye coordination can also lead to difficulty in writing. 

3. Familiar Activities Become Challenging

Completing everyday tasks, such as cleaning dishes or choosing an outfit—may become difficult for your loved one. Additionally, they might lose familiarity with commonly visited places, forget important information, where belongings are kept, etc. 

4. Odd Judgment or Decision Making

It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s to make unusual or reckless decisions, especially for those in the early stages of the disease. This could include making poor financial decisions, like struggling with money, gambling, or giving a large amount of money to a scam, and this is something that should be monitored closely.

5. Misplacing or Losing Things Frequently

The frequent misplacement or loss of everyday items is a telltale sign that your loved one may have Alzheimer’s. Your loved one also may place belongings in odd locations, or even accuse them of being stolen.

6. Social Retreat

It’s normal as we age to become drained from work or family get together, however being unable to remember sports, social activities or falling behind on hobbies because they don’t remember how to complete them is a major sign of Alzheimer’s. This can lead to a disruption in routines which, in turn, can cause confusion, frustration, and irritability. Uncharacteristic social retreat by people who once enjoyed participating in social activities—such as calling relatives or meeting friends for coffee—is a common sign of Alzheimer’s.

7. Changes in Appearanceold man sitting on couch thinking

Alzheimer’s can cause impaired decision-making such as random changes in one’s physical appearance. This can include things like dressing differently, not matching socks, or failing to attend to personal hygiene.

9. Anxiety or Depression

The social retreat discussed above can progress to anxiety and depression. When loved ones can’t remember things like how to perform simple tasks or engage in conversations with people familiar to them, they may also suffer from mental and emotional distress.

How To Respond if a Loved One Starts Showing Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms

If a loved one starts showing any of the Alzheimer’s early symptoms discussed above, here are some practical ways you can respond to help them navigate the disease. 

Educate Yourself

Having a basic understanding of the disease is the first step to helping your loved one feel cared for.  After you learn the basics, understand the impact of the symptoms associated with this disease.

Elderly woman completing puzzle

Visit a Medical Professional

Taking your loved one to see a specialist early on can help keep some of their symptoms under control and slow the progression of the disease, or at least help you know how to respond to them in the future.

Be Supportive

Even when things get tough, your loved one will need your full support as they navigate the disease. 

Encourage Stimulating Activities

Encouraging your loved one to partake in stimulating activities can help with cognitive function. 

Implement Safety Precautions

Take necessary measures to keep you and your loved one safe. 

Terra Vista Dementia Care Services

If caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s has become too much to bear alone, Terra Vista is here to help. The memory care experts in our award-winning memory care community offer customized memory care therapies and enriching activities to help your loved one live life to the fullest in a safe environment. When you need someone you can trust with the care of your loved one who has dementia, come to Terra Vista—where your family becomes our family.

Learn About Our Dementia Care Services