More than 6 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Another alarming statistic, between 2000 and 2019, the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease as recorded on death certificates has more than doubled, increasing 145.2%, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More recently, the nonprofit organization has reported that Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths have risen 16% in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. These increased rates of diagnosis and mortality are reasons for the public to become more aware of the numerous, potential warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, documented by the Alzheimer’s Association.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
The Alzheimer’s Association explains that an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease is often the identification of disruptive memory loss. This can include information that was recently learned, peoples’ names, appointment times and more. Memory loss that disrupts daily life can also constitute repeating the same information over and over again or asking a question and repeatedly forgetting the answer. Oftentimes, those with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease will remember this information at a later time or start to leave themselves frequent reminder notes because they anticipate forgetting the details.
2. Difficulty planning or problem-solving
Those living with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease have been known to exhibit challenges when attempting to follow a plan. They may also struggle when working with numbers, such as when they are paying their monthly bills. For example, people with this type of dementia may begin to notice that they have been making financial errors when paying bills or that they forgot to submit a payment on time. While they may write these instances off as mere errors or mistakes, a continuation of these occurrences can be an indication of Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Unable to track down missing items
Someone with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease may begin to either put things in unusual places or lose items. When an item is lost, they will not be able to track the item down by retracing their steps or thinking back to the last time they were in possession of the item. As the disease progresses, these individuals may become defensive when questioned about their ability to remember where certain items are located. It is not uncommon for someone to misplace something once in a while. However, when losing items becomes more common, that is when someone may need to make others aware of the issue or seek medical advice from a professional.
4. Changes in mood and personality
A commonality among individuals with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease that can serve as a warning sign is apparent changes in mood or personality. This type of dementia can bring about feelings of anxiety, confusion, suspicion and fear. For these reasons, conversations that normally flow may become difficult for the individual to hold. When something is misplaced or forgotten, this person may become extremely irritated, upset or depressed. If these characteristics become evident in individuals who had not previously presented such behaviors, loved ones, friends, family, co-workers or others who know the person should consider the possibility that this could be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.