To help you know what warning signs to look for review the list
and check the symptoms that concern you. If more than a few of the
symptoms apply to your or a loved one, the person with the symptoms should see a
physician for a complete examination.
1. Memory loss that affects job skills. It’s normal to occasionally
forget an assignment, deadline, or colleague’s name, but frequent
forgetfulness or unexplainable confusion at home or in the workplace may signal
that something’s wrong.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Busy people get distracted
from time to time. For example, you might leave something on the stove too long
or not remember to serve part of a meal. People with Alzheimer’s might prepare
a meal and not only forget to serve it but also forget they made it.
3. Problems with language. Everyone has trouble finding the right word
sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s disease may forget simple words or
substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentences difficult to
4. Disorientation to time and place. It’s normal to momentarily
forget the day of the week or what you need from the store. But people with
Alzheimer’s disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where
they are, how they got there, or how to get back home.
5. Poor or decreased judgment. Choosing not to bring a sweater or coat
along on a chilly night is a common mistake. A person with Alzheimer’s,
however, may dress inappropriately in more noticeable ways, wearing a bathrobe
to the store or several blouses on a hot day.
6. Problems with abstract thinking. Balancing a checkbook can be
challenging for many people, but for someone with Alzheimer’s, recognizing
numbers or performing basic calculation may be impossible.
7. Misplacing things. Everyone temporarily misplaces a wallet or keys
from time to time. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put these and other
items in inappropriate places — such as an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch
in the sugar bowl — and then not recall how they got there.
8. Changes in mood or behavior. Everyone experiences a broad range of
emotions — it’s part of being human. People with Alzheimer’s tend to
exhibit more rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.
9. Changes in personality. People’s personalities may change
somewhat as they age. But a person with Alzheimer’s can change dramatically,
either suddenly or over a period of time. Someone who is generally easygoing may
become angry, suspicious, or fearful.
10. Loss of initiative. It’s normal to tire of housework, business
activities, or social obligations, but most people retain or eventually regain
their interest. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may remain uninterested
and uninvolved in many or all of his usual pursuits.