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I'm a Doctor and Warn of These Alzheimer's Signs

These issues affect one’s memory, but that is not the only sign to watch out for.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Alzheimer's is diagnosed when significant cognitive decline has occurred, and a person has difficulty caring for themselves. Symptoms of Alzheimer's  occur because the brain cannot perform its function as well as it once did.  This may be due to impaired blood flow in the brain, impaired availability of energy to neurons, chronic inflammation from infections or toxic exposure. The brain may be lacking the support it needs in terms of nutrients and/or hormones. Typically, multiples of these problems are occurring in an individual who may have certain genetic susceptibilities. These issues affect one's memory, but that is not the only sign to watch out for. Read on for 7 signs—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Deteriorating Memory

Memory Disorder

 First and foremost, the development of both short term and long-term memory loss is a red flag when it comes to worrying about brain health. While yes, we all can be forgetful at times, these so-called "senior moments" could point towards the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. You do not need to panic just because you forget where you placed your car keys last, but if it becomes a recurring problem, it might be best to get screened for cognitive decline. 


Processing Information Slowly

Stressed middle 60s aged worker woman massaging head suffering of headache in home office.

The process of listening or reading information, thinking about a response, and then actually carrying out the response is something that goes unnoticed for most. But for those who may be experiencing cognitive decline, this process becomes a lot more difficult. If your loved one has started to take more time developing responses to different information given to them, this may be a sign of early cognitive decline. 


Difficulty Navigating in Both New, and Familiar, Places

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

Sure, some of us may become uncomfortable when entering an unfamiliar place, but we are able to turn that place into a familiar place more often than not. For those experiencing cognitive decline, unfamiliar places often turn into forbidden places. This sense of comfortability drastically increases, eventually deterring someone from ever leaving the places they are familiar with. And sometimes even the familiar places can turn unfamiliar for those with cognitive decline. 


Difficulty Recognizing Faces and Names

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

This sign has a broad range and can either be extremely difficult to notice, or extremely easy. If your loved one is starting to mix up names of family members, it is likely they are experiencing cognitive decline. Sometimes they can mistake their granddaughter for their daughter, or maybe just mixing up their grandchildren's names. On the other end, sometimes people can forget the name of someone they just met, or not recognize the face of someone they have met before. In all instances, if this becomes a reoccurring issue, they should be screened for cognitive decline. 


Difficulty Responding to Social Cues

Comforting Senior Husband Suffering With Dementia

Difficulty understanding abstract humor or subtle verbal, or non-verbal cues can be an indication of cognitive decline. If you notice a loved one go from being a social butterfly, to a fly on the wall, this may mean that they are having trouble responding to social cues. Ultimately, this is a sign of cognitive decline. 

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Speech Troubles

Tired mature woman take off glasses suffering from headache

This sign has a few implications. First, in relation to memory loss, those experiencing cognitive decline may have troubles finding the right words. This can range from finding the right word to express their emotion, to forgetting everyday words that seem second-nature to most. Noticing speech troubles can also mean sometimes slurring words when having to speak a lot, which leads to someone not wanting to speak at all because of this. 

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Difficulty Concentrating

Pensioner reading message on mobile phone

If a loved one sometimes seems to drift off into space while having a conversation, or having to do anything that requires concentration, this is most likely a sign of cognitive decline. 

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What to Do if You Notice These Symptoms


If one notices these symptoms, they should come in and get evaluated immediately. There is no benefit to waiting. Just like a person might undergo a colonoscopy for certain symptoms, we recommend a "Cognoscopy" to evaluate what is driving the problem. Fortunately, a "Cognoscopy" is much more pleasant than a colonoscopy.  It includes a detailed interview and a panel of bloodwork initially, which may be followed by further specialized testing. Again, the earlier problems are detected, the easier it is for the clinician and the patient to correct them. Unfortunately, this has not become the mainstream method of practice and the traditional medical model does very little investigation. One should find a practitioner who understands the multitude of contributing factors, so they are aware to test for them. So find the right care, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.  

Dr. Dale Bredesen is affiliated with the Cognitive Health Centers, whose goal is to raise awareness in the medical community and the community at large to the importance of a thorough evaluation. 

Emilia Paluszek
Emilia specializes in human biology and psychology at the University at Albany. Read more about Emilia