Is it Alzheimer's Disease? Ten Signs It's More Than Memory Loss

    May 06,2015

    By Janet Kuebler

    When a loved one experiences memory issues, one of the first concerns that comes to mind is: "Is it Alzheimer's Disease?" Knowing the difference between normal age-related memory issues and memory issues that might be unusual is a helpful tool. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are 10 memory loss warning signs to be aware of that are worthy of further investigation.

    1. The first concern deals with memory loss that causes a disruption in daily life: forgetting appointments, important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over and an increase in reliance on notes or family members for things they used to handle on their own. Remembering the appointments or events later is typical for age related memory issues.

    2. The second warning sign involves difficulty with solving problems or following a plan. Examples include problems with addition or subtraction, paying monthly bills or following a recipe. A normal memory change may be minor errors while balancing the checkbook.

    3. Difficulty with familiar tasks is the third sign. This can be forgetting what plates are used for and where they are stored, or the location of a favorite store or long-time hair dresser. A common age-related change would be needing help with cell phone settings or the microwave settings.

    4. A fourth sign may be confusing morning and nighttime as well as seasons, and can be another cause for concern. Typical memory loss may be temporarily forgetting the day of the week but being able to recall it later.

    5. A fifth area of concern deals with visual impairment, beyond glasses and cataracts. If your loved one has trouble with distance, color and contrast, driving may become increasingly difficult. This would be apparent by an increase in small accidents or incidents.

    6. If your loved one seems to have trouble joining or following conversations, beyond hearing loss, this is considered the sixth warning sign. Repeating themselves on a regular basis is another cause of concern. Occasionally losing the thread of the conversation or having trouble finding the right word is considered normal.

    7. An increase in misplaced or lost items can be an issue, especially if your loved one cannot retrace their steps to retrieve the items. If the item can be found later by recalling how or when it is misplaced, then it would be considered normal age-related memory loss.

    8. The eighth warning sign involves decreased or poor judgment regarding money or personal hygiene. The occasional bad decision is not a cause for concern.

    9. Withdrawal from family, social activities or work is another area of concern. If your loved one is no longer interested in their favorite TV shows or sport teams and is not interested in attending family functions, this can be a cause of concern. Occasional weariness of these activities is considered normal.

    10. The final warning sign regarding memory loss given by the Alzheimer's Association deals with changes in mood or personality. Being set in one's routine is okay as long as that is not a cause for anger when the routine is interrupted.

    If any of the above warning signs are a cause of concern for you or your loved one, a complete physical is recommended since there may be a physical cause for the memory loss. These physical conditions include depression, medication side effects, alcohol abuse, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies. Memory problems may improve when the condition is treated or addressed.

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