What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease?

In this blog post, Dr. Philip Spradling, Ph.D., MFT, MSG, MA, Gerontologist, and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, reveals some of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease. 


Some Facts About Aging And Dementia


Did you know that 10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the United States?  This is because the baby boomers are moving into their retirement years rapidly. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 50 million people have dementia, and 10 million new diagnoses are made every year. 


Dementia is a condition which primarily affects older persons, and it shows itself in a deterioration in thinking, memory, and behavior, including the capacity to carry out everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but there are other types.


A vital fact: Although dementia primarily affects older persons, it is not a normal part of aging.


Dementia has a huge impact on our society: socially, economically and physically, but most of all upon the families and caregivers of those with the disease. We will focus on Alzheimer’s disease here as it is the most common form of dementia.  


What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Are you wondering how Alzheimer’s starts? Although this disease impacts everyone differently, there are some early signs and symptoms that may indicate that Alzheimer’s is present. Here are some things to look out for. 


Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life


It is not unusual for people in middle-age to temporarily forget the names of friends and acquaintances, or miss the occasional appointment. On the other hand, when one forgets the names of family members or asks for the same information repeatedly, this may be a sign of Alzheimer’s.


Inability To Complete Familiar Tasks 


One of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease is difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work, or leisure. Tasks that the person has done hundreds of times, like paying bills or mowing the lawn, become difficult. It may take them much longer to finish familiar tasks that they have done a hundred times before. 


Difficulty In Planning And Following Through 


People with Alzheimer’s will often struggle to develop and follow a plan. Creating a grocery list or following a simple recipe may become impossible. It may be hard for the person to follow the steps necessary to complete simple number calculations and problems. 


Being Confused About The Time Or Place


A frequent symptom of Alzheimer’s is being confused or getting lost on a familiar commute, like going home from work.  It is common for people with the disorder to forget where they are, or how they got there.  


Vision Problems Or Difficulty With Spatial Relationships

Is your loved one all of a sudden experiencing difficulty with reading, or determining color or contrast? Are these issues causing problems with driving? Sometimes these issues are due to a vision problem like cataracts or glaucoma. But, they could also be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Always talk to you or your loved one’s physician about any changes in vision.


Problems With Words In Either Speaking Or Writing


While it is not abnormal for middle-aged and older adults to have trouble finding the right word, persons experiencing Alzheimer’s may stop in the middle of a sentence, repeat themselves, or call things by the wrong name.


Frequently Misplacing Things


Losing things around the house happens for many of us, however, a person with Alzheimer’s may be unable to find the lost object. They will often put the missing object in a strange place like the car keys in the freezer. Also, they may struggle with retracing their steps to locate the missing object. This may cause the person to become suspicious and believe that others are stealing from them. 


Poor Judgment And Decision-Making 


An individual with encroaching Alzheimer’s may make decisions that seem illogical, poor, or inappropriate. They may become irresponsible with their money, and start spending in unusual ways. It is not uncommon for elderly people with Alzheimer’s to fall victim to phone scammers because of this. 


Withdrawing From Work Or Normal Social Activities 


Has your loved one become more withdrawn? A person with Alzheimer’s may pull back from hobbies, social activities or work projects. They may have no interest in things that they used to enjoy, such as their favorite sports team.


Changes In Mood And Personality 


Alzheimer’s may cause changes in mood or personality. The person might become suspicious, confused, fearful, anxious or depressed. These changes may become more pronounced during times of stress, such as when removed from his or her comfort zone.


Get Help 


Of course, this goes against notions of enjoying the golden years of retirement, but there is hope for caregivers and families of those affected by dementia. Reach out today to get help if someone you know exhibits the above signs and symptoms. 


In blogs to follow, I will offer some Alzheimer’s resources for caregivers. I’ll discuss some steps that you can take when your loved one is experiencing concerning changes in behavioral, emotional or cognitive ability.


Are you looking for a Pasadena Alzheimer’s therapist? Please contact me for support if you or someone you love needs help. 


Philip Spradling, Ph.D., MFT, MSG, MA

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT# 105133)

Pasadena, Sierra Madre