A person who develops problems in one or more of these areas should be evaluated, says the Alzheimer's Association. Here are 10 changes in mental functioning that may signal Alzheimer's disease.
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; and needing to rely on memory aids (such as reminder notes) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
Challenges in problem solving
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
Difficulty completing tasks
When someone starts to have difficulty with tasks they typically do at home, at work or for fun this is an early indication of Alzheimer's. Trouble cooking a familiar recipe, managing a budget at work, knowing the rules to a favorite game, or navigating the usual way home or to a familiar destination are all examples.
Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
Some people with Alzheimer's may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. They have trouble with general spatial awareness (they may look at a mirror and think their reflection is someone else in the room).
People with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop talking and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name, such as calling a watch a hand-clock.
People with Alzheimer's may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. These "misplacements" may happen more frequently and sometimes others are blamed for stealing the missing object.
People with Alzheimer's may have a problem making good decisions. For example, they may give large amounts to telemarketers or have poor judgement when handling money, in general. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. Decisions, in general, are more challenging.
Withdrawal from work or social activities
People with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects, or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. Another reason for their isolation can be the overwhelming and scary changes they are going through.
Changes in mood and personality
People with Alzheimer's can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.