Many people associate memory loss as a normal part of the aging process. It’s true that we can become more forgetful as we age, experiencing what can be called “senior moments.” However, when issues with memory start to disrupt daily life, this may be a sign of something more serious, like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Every person’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will not be the same. However, there are some warning signs to be aware of to know if you should consider going through testing for Alzheimer’s disease.
Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 main early signs of Alzheimer’s disease that should not be ignored. Again, individuals may experience one or more of these symptoms in varying degrees, but if you notice any of them, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.
- Memory Loss. The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. Do you find yourself asking the same questions repeatedly or forgetting important dates and events? Do you have to leave yourself reminder notes all over the house?
- Trouble problem solving or planning. Are detailed tasks becoming increasingly difficult, like balancing your checkbook? Do you have problems developing and following through on plans?
- Completing daily tasks is becoming challenging. Have you been having problems driving to familiar locations? When you gather with friends for a game of cards, are the rules becoming difficult to remember?
- Confusion in regards to time and place. Are you losing track of dates or not sure what season it is? Have you forgotten where you are or gotten lost easily?
- Issues with vision. Are you having trouble judging distance or having difficulty reading your favorite newspaper? Are colors becoming hard to tell apart?
- Difficulty with vocabulary and speaking. Do you often forget words, or make up a new word in its place? Do you have trouble following or joining in on conversations?
- Losing items or misplacing things. Have you lost the ability to retrace your steps after forgetting where you placed an item? Do you put items in unusual places, like putting your car keys in the freezer?
- Poor judgment. Are you making poor decisions lately, especially involving money? Have you been taking care of your own personal hygiene as well as you normally would?
- Social withdrawal. Have you been avoiding social events or your favorite hobbies? Are you lacking motivation to be around others?
- Personality or mood changes. Are you feeling confused, anxious or getting easily upset? Are you depressed or suspicious of others, even your loved ones?
Testing for Alzheimer’s
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms of Alzheimer’s on a regular basis, it’s important to see your doctor and get tested. Early detection will allow a better opportunity for treatment that could help improve your quality of life.
Testing for Alzheimer’s will involve your doctor asking questions about your medical history, diet, and medications as well as procedures like checking your blood pressure and listening to your heart and lungs. Information from this exam will help rule out other conditions that are similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, like anemia, depression, diabetes, certain vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities, etc.
Doctors may also perform imaging tests of the brain like MRIs or PETs. An MRI can show if someone has had strokes, tumors or blood clots that may be causing the issue, while a PET scan can show the plaques that build up in brains affected by Alzheimer’s.
There is no single test that can prove you have Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis will be made through an assessment that will consider all the possible causes.
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