Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent kind of dementia, affecting 6.5 million Americans age 65 and over—numbers that the CDC predicts will reach 14 million by 2060. “We are living longer than ever before. The problem is that our lifespan is outpacing our healthspan, especially our brains’ healthspan,” says neurogeneticist Rudolph Tanzi. “All of today’s medicine has us living longer; the question now is whether or not our brains can keep up.” According to the CDC, here are five warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
1 — Memory Loss
According to doctors, memory loss is a common indication of dementia. “Stress, an overworked day, insufficient sleep, and even some medicines can disrupt memory creation and recall,” says geriatrician Sevil Yasar, MD, PhD. “And we all have those instances when a name or the title of a movie falls right on the tip of our tongue but are not the same as the kinds of lapses that may be warning indicators for dementia. It’s worth discussing with your doctor if you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one at any time.”
2 — Confusion
Some of the most typical early indicators of dementia are confusion and difficulty with activities that were formerly simple. “Not asking for assistance when you’re lost or forgetting exactly where you are while driving or walking for a long time might be an indication of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Yasar.
3 — Personality Change
Experts warn that inexplicable personality changes could be a sign of dementia. The AARP advises, “A loved one who begins behaving strangely anxious, confused, scared, or suspicious; gets upset quickly; or loses interest in hobbies and appears sad should be monitored.”
4 — Poor Judgment
Dementia is often identified by poor judgment, for example, as in the case of declining financial skills. “It’s not unusual at all to hear that the first symptom families notice is a person’s financial dealings,” explains Beth Kallmyer, VP for support and care at the Alzheimer’s Association.
5 — Problems With Writing or Speaking
“Language functioning may be somewhat preserved in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, when it is generally the most prevalent cause of dementia, however it is likely to deteriorate substantially in the mid-to-late phases,” according to the University of California San Francisco Aging and Memory Center. “Individuals with AD frequently have issues with language expression, naming objects, and word fluency. Comprehension and Syntax of language are generally preserved in the early phases of the disease, however speech may become halting as a result of word-finding difficulties in the latter stages. In other words, patients have a hard time speaking in full sentences because searching for appropriate words takes too much effort. Speech comprehension may be severely hampered during the final stage of the illness.”