How To Spot The Early Signs Of Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer's Association defines Alzheimer's as "a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills." Dementia refers to the symptoms of Alzheimer's that can worsen over time.

They predict that by 2050, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's dementia is projected to reach 12.7 million, and although there is no current cure, there are huge benefits to catching it early, and recognizing the signs.

September 21 marks World Alzheimer's Day as part of World Alzheimer's Month, so what are the early recognizable signs of this devastating brain disease?

Dr Katy Bray of the Alzheimer's Research UK, the UK's leading dementia charity, told Newsweek, "Our brains are incredibly complex, responsible for our memory, as well as what we think, feel and do. Alzheimer's disease physically attacks brain cells, tearing away at the very essence of who we are.

"Symptoms include memory problems but also changes in mood and behavior, and problems with communication, meaning that people can become confused or disorientated. As the disease progresses, people with Alzheimer's will need more support doing everyday tasks and an increasing amount of care, which can have a huge impact on loved ones."

TikTok user Kayleigh Ogleby recently posted a video to her account lamenting not recognizing the early signs of Alzheimer's in her mother. With over one million views, the video explains how her mother started "forgetting the right words for things", sent "text messages with basic words spelt incorrectly", and got "obsessive about routines". She concludes, "I know you're still the same person inside, but everything feels so different".

Here, Newsweek looks at how to spot the early signs, and how catching it early could help yourself and your loved ones.

The 10 Early Signs Of Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer's Association reports that there are 10 early signs that could point to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

1. Memory Loss

If you or someone you know is experiencing memory loss that is affecting daily life, this could be a symptom. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's disease is forgetting dates or events, asking the same question over and over again, and forgetting names.

2. Challenges in Planning or Problem Solving

Some people may have an issue working with numbers, following a familiar recipe, or keeping track of bills.

3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

It may become difficult for someone with Alzheimer's to complete everyday tasks, including getting to a familiar location, and organizing their regular grocery lists.

Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease. Stock Image. September 21 marks World Alzheimer’s Day as part of World Alzheimer’s Month, so what are the early recognizable signs of this devastating brain disease? Getty Images

4. Confusion With the Time and Place

People living with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons, and time. They may sometimes forget where they are or how they got there.

5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images

Having vision issues can be a sign. This may lead to difficulty with balance or reading, problems judging distance, and determining color, which may cause problems with driving.

6. New Problems with Words in Speaking and Writing

A person with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop mid-sentence, repeat themselves, or have trouble naming a familiar object.

7. Misplacing Things or Losing the Ability to Retrace Their Steps

It may become more common for someone with Alzheimer's to put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them. They may accuse other people of stealing their belongings, especially as the disease progresses.

Alzheimer's Disease
Early signs. Stock Image. Alzheimer's affects cognitive skills. Getty Images

8. Decreased or Poor Judgement

Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making in situations that involve money, or paying less attention to keeping themselves clean.

9. Withdrawal from Social Activities

The ability to follow a conversation may be a sign of Alzheimer's. As a result, a person may withdraw from hobbies, social activities, or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.

10. Changes in Mood and Personality

Mood and personality changes may be a symptom. Someone with Alzheimer's may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may easily get upset at home, with friends or family, or when out of their comfort zone.

You Should Go To The Doctor Even If You Spot One Sign Of Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer's Association says that if you notice any of the 10 warning signs listed above in yourself or someone you know, it's important to schedule an appointment with your doctor as there are numerous benefits to an early diagnosis.

Dr Bray urges people to get checked out if they believe they or someone they know are experiencing any of the early symptoms of Alzheimer's, "It is important to diagnose Alzheimer's disease as early as possible to allow people to access the right support and treatments to manage their symptoms. It also means that they, and their family and friends, can plan for the future. Living with dementia comes with many challenges but having the right support in place – including financially - can make a significant difference to people's lives."

Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, the medical benefits of an early diagnosis can include access to treatment options to slow the decline or lessen the symptoms. There may also be the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and receive non-drug treatments like cognitive stimulation therapy, or reminiscence therapy.

Emotional benefits may include organizing difficult conversations like who will take over power of attorney, and planning ahead to organize any legal, financial, or end-of-life wishes.