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Warning Signs You Have Alzheimer's Right Now

Here's what to watch for, says this doctor.

Typically, people associate Alzheimer's disease with memory loss. There is a good reason for this since memory loss is the most common first sign of Alzheimer's. However, other signs can reflect the early stages of the disease and are not so commonly recognized. For example, withdrawal from social activities, problems with words, and changes in mood or personality can all be warning signs of Alzheimer's. Also, signs and symptoms are different from person to person. So these are generalizations that may not apply to everyone. With this said these are warning signs of Alzheimer's disease—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Withdrawal From Social Activities

senior man looking out window

The tendency is for people living with Alzheimer's disease to withdraw from all social interactions (including family). They may start experiencing difficulties maintaining and following a conversation, which leads them to no longer want to be part of those experiences.


Problems With Words

middle aged woman with memory loss or alzheimer's or dementia talking to doctor or nurse at home
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Again this is very variable. People living with Alzheimer's disease can use the wrong word to describe something (like an object, for example), they may not remember the word they want to use, and/or they may keep repeating the same word. This also contributes to the difficulties in maintaining a conversation mentioned before.


Changes in Mood

Portrait of sad mature woman sitting on couch at home and looking away with worry and anxiety.

These can be subtle or severe (with a tendency to become more severe as the disease progresses). People living with Alzheimer's disease can have mood and personality changes. They can become depressed, anxious, and/or confused. These can worsen in certain situations, such as changing houses or routines.  


Putting Things in Unusual Places and the Inability to Retract Your Steps

Senior lady taking notes, sitting in front of computer, touching her head

These need to be put into context as many can also occur from the typical aging process. Typically, disease-associated changes occur persistently during a period of time and are not one-time occurrences. For example, we all misplace things from time to time and can retrace the steps that will lead us to find the misplaced object. When a disease process is present, things may be put in unusual places, and the person cannot retrace what they did and where they were in a way that can lead to finding the missing object. Sometimes the person with Alzheimer's disease can even accuse someone else of stealing the lost object, and this can happen more frequently as the disease progresses.


What to Do if You Notice These Signs

Doctor wearing safety protective mask supporting and cheering up senior patient

 All of these changes (withdrawal from social activities, problems with words, changes in personality and mood) occur because there is progressive damage and loss of brain cells caused by the disease.

If someone notices changes (in oneself or another), they should talk to a doctor to voice their concerns and get an evaluation. Early detection of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is important because it allows people to explore potential symptom alleviating treatments and can help them plan for the future. 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. Guerreiro is an Associate Professor within the Department of Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Guerreiro has focused her research on Alzheimer's and Dementia. 

Dr. Rita Guerreiro
Dr. Guerreiro is an Associate Professor within the Department of Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Institute. Read more about Dr. Rita
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