While early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can strike at any time, Alzheimer’s is most common in adults over the age of 60, affecting as many as 5.1 million adults in the United States.
However, recent research suggests that symptoms can begin appearing far earlier in life, so it’s important to keep track of any changes in your memory, judgment, and other higher brain function.
Here are 7 warning signs that might indicate Alzheimer’s-related memory loss.
While brain changes are part of the normal aging cycle, it’s important to talk to your doctor about sudden or severe changes and anything that begins to significantly impact your daily life.
1 – Misplacing Things
Younger folks often like to joke about their grandparents putting the car keys in the refrigerator or leaving their glasses in the silverware drawer, but misplacing things – especially in odd places – can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. While it’s normal to occasionally forget where you put your wallet when you get home, misplacing objects can be worrisome if it’s increasingly frequent, or if you can’t retrace your steps to figure out where you might have put the lost item.
2 – Problems With Decision-Making
Poor judgment can be a sign of Alzheimer’s when taken to the extreme. While occasionally spending more money than you should on a big purchase is an unfortunate fact of life, people whose decision-making skills completely and suddenly go out the window, or who begin making decisions out of line with their usual characters, may be exhibiting early Alzheimer’s symptoms.
3 – Issues With Words
This can take a number of forms, from forgetting vocabulary words to struggling to describe abstract thoughts to having difficulty with the physical process of writing. An occasional “tip of the tongue” forgotten word is totally normal, but general communication difficulties may signal a larger problem.
4 – Changes in Sense of Time
Rather than experiencing a nostalgic sense of “where did the time go”, people with Alzheimer’s may completely lose periods of time. Forgetting dates is a small symptom of this, but larger things to be worried about include confusion at the passage of seasons, or not being able to tell how long you’ve been somewhere.
5 – Getting Lost
Many of us have little sense of direction to begin with, especially now that we tend to depend on GPS apps to get us places. However, people beginning to exhibit Alzheimer’s symptoms might get lost in places that they should be familiar with, like their home neighborhood or the area around their place of work.
6 – Repetition
Re-telling the same story now and then tends to happen with age, but constantly repeating the same stories or phrases over and over might indicate larger memory loss. Another form of repetition might be asking the same question repeatedly, even after its been answered multiple times.
7 – Difficulty Completing Tasks
Many tasks come to us naturally with years of repetition, like showering, playing favorite games, or driving to work. People exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s-related memory loss, however, may have trouble completing tasks that they were formerly able to do with little thought.