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10 Warning Signs of Memory Loss

You’re talking to someone you know well and all of a sudden you can’t remember their name. Or you walk into a room purposefully, and then forget why you did it in the first place. You draw a complete blank, and your mind immediately defaults to “Alzheimer’s.”

Don’t worry; these are just normal signs of aging, or typical of a brain that is on information overload. More seriously, it may be a symptom of depression, side effects of medication, stress from retirement, or the death of a loved one or even having an underactive thyroid.

After a certain age, almost all of us are concerned about our mental acuity and progressive memory disease, whether in ourselves or our loved ones? When should we begin to worry?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association there are ten warning signs that you should not ignore.

1. Disruptive memory loss

As the term indicates, disruptive memory loss is persistent, progressive memory degeneration. Typically, it negatively impacts daily life and includes forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events, asking the same questions repeatedly, and increasingly relying on reminder notes on the refrigerator, medicine cabinet, or family members for everyday things.

2. Difficulty planning or solving problems

While it’s normal to make occasional errors, working with numbers, following recipes and cooking, keeping track of monthly bills, or taking much longer to do things may become significant challenges that impede quality of life and even present potential hazards.

3. Struggling with familiar tasks

With today’s complex technology, recording your favorite TV shows may be confounding, but not necessarily a sign of memory disease. However, forgetting the way to familiar locations, trouble writing a grocery list, or remembering the rules of a favorite card game could be cause for concern.

4. Confusion with time or place

Forgetting the day momentarily but figuring it out later is normal. We all do it.  But losing track of dates, seasons, or the passage of time is common in those with early Alzheimer’s. They may also forget where they are or how they got there, or have trouble understanding something if it is not happening in the present or immediately.

5. Trouble with visual images and spatial relationships

Problems judging distance, determining color or contrast are common cataract problems, but when present with other symptoms could also be an indication of Alzheimer’s. Vision problems that lead to difficulty with balance or reading may also be a sign of Alzheimer’s.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing

Often, those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may want to avoid other people or lose interest in socializing because they begin to have trouble following a conversation, or they regularly struggle for the right words when speaking with others or have difficulty naming a familiar object. If this is new behavior, it could be a sign of the disease.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

We all have trouble finding our car keys from time to time, but usually, just retrace our steps to find them. A person with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places, e.g., car keys in the freezer or oven, and are unable to go back over their steps to find them again. As the disease progresses, they may suspect others of stealing their missing items.

8. Decreasing or poor judgment

Who hasn’t made a bad decision or mistake? On it’s own, its unlikely to be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Still, those with progressive memory loss may experience uncharacteristic changes in judgment or decision-making, such as when dealing with money or neglecting grooming and personal hygiene.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

As mentioned in #6, a person living with Alzheimer’s disease may lose the ability to hold or follow a conversation, causing them to withdraw from hobbies and social activities. Or, they may have trouble with things that once gave them pleasure, like keeping up with a favorite team or activity.

10. Changes in mood and personality

It is often said that as we get older, we become more “set in our ways.” But individuals with Alzheimer’s may demonstrate profound mood and personality changes, or become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.

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