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Alzheimer's Symptoms Often Appear in This Order

It's important to be alert to which symptoms may indicate the disease.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

By and large, Americans are living longer, which is very good news. But one ironic side effect of increased longevity is a greater risk of developing the diseases that accompany aging. Chief among them: the progressive brain disorder known as Alzheimer's disease. By the year 2025, Alzheimer's cases are projected to rise more than 12% in the United States, and the No. 1 risk factor for Alzheimer's is simply aging. But today, an Alzheimer's diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean what it did in the past, so it's important to be alert to which symptoms may indicate the disease. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What is Alzheimer's?

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which includes a number of conditions that involve changes to memory, thinking, and judgment that ultimately interfere with a person's ability to function. In the U.S. today, about 6 million people are living with Alzheimer's.

Most cases are diagnosed in people older than 65. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, and there is currently no cure. But it's important to be alert to early signs of Alzheimer's, so its progress can be slowed, if possible. According to the Alzheimer's Association, the drug aducanumab (brand name Aduhelm) may address the underlying cause of Alzheimer's and slow cognitive decline. 

Read on to learn more about the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

2

Memory Problems

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"Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer's disease," says the National Institute on Aging. Some forgetfulness is normal with aging, but certain types of memory trouble can be a red flag for Alzheimer's. This includes:

  • Forgetting recently learned information or events
  • Forgetting important dates 
  • Forgetting where you've placed certain items (like car keys or a cell phone) and being unable to retrace steps to locate them
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly
  • Increasingly relying on memory aids, like notes and family members

3

Trouble With Complex or Familiar Tasks 

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A person with dementia may begin having trouble with reading, writing, or complicated mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Familiar tasks, like paying bills or cooking frequently used recipes, may become difficult, the CDC says.

4

Getting Lost

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A person with dementia may get lost in familiar places, like on a frequently driven route or in their neighborhood. They may forget how they got to a certain place and how to return home. 

5

Difficulty Communicating

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A common sign of dementia is the impaired ability to communicate, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The affected person might have trouble finding the right words or finishing sentences. They might use substitutes or talk around words they're unable to remember.

6

Coordination or Visual-Spatial Problems

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Dementia may cause an affected person to have trouble with motor skills. They may have difficulty walking, maintaining balance, or staying coordinated, says the CDC. The person might trip more often, or drop or spill things.

7

How You Might Prevent Alzheimer's

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According to a study published last July in the journal Neurology, mentally stimulating activities that involve seeking or processing information (such as reading, writing letters, playing cards or board games, and doing puzzles) may delay the onset of dementia in older people by up to five years. "It's never too late to start doing the kinds of inexpensive, accessible activities" mentioned in the study, the scientists wrote, "even in your 80s." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more