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Warning Signs You Have Alzheimer's Says CDC

Never ignore these dementia red flags.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and affects approximately 6.5 million Americans age 65 and over—a number the CDC predicts will be 14 million by 2060. "We're living longer than ever. But the problem is our lifespan is outpacing our healthspan, especially the healthspan of our brains," says neurogeneticist Rudolph Tanzi, PhD. "All of the modern medicine has us living longer, but is our brain keeping up? That's what we have to face right now." Here are five warning signs of Alzheimer's, according to the CDC. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Memory Loss

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

Memory loss is a common sign of dementia, according to doctors. "Stress, an extra-busy day, poor sleep and even some medications can interfere with making and recalling memories," says geriatrician Sevil Yasar, MD, PhD. "And we all have moments when a name or the title of a movie is right on the tip of the tongue, but those events are different from the kinds of lapses that may be warning signs for dementia… any time you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, it's worth talking with your doctor."



Senior Hispanic Man Suffering With Dementia Trying To Dress

Confusion and difficulty with tasks that used to be easy are some of the most common early signs of dementia. "Driving or walking for a long time without realizing you're lost or completely forgetting where you are, and not asking for help in these situations could be a sign of dementia," says Dr. Yasar.


Personality Change

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

Unexplained personality changes could be a sign of dementia, experts warn. "A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious; becomes upset easily; or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern," says the AARP.


Poor Judgment

Surprised senior mature woman counting bills at home.

Poor judgment—such as with deteriorating financial skills—is a commonly reported sign of dementia. "It's not uncommon at all for us to hear that one of the first signs that families become aware of is around a person's financial dealings," says Beth Kallmyer, vice president for care and support at the Alzheimer's Association.


Problems With Speaking or Writing

Senior woman conducting an interview

"In Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia, language functioning may be relatively spared in the early stages of the disease, but it is likely to decline substantially in the mid to late stages," says the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center.  "People with AD often have difficulty with language expression, word fluency and naming objects. Syntax and comprehension of language are generally preserved in the early stages, however, in the later stages, speech may become halting due to word-finding difficulties. In other words, patients have great difficulty speaking in full sentences because of the effort that is required to find the right words. Writing skills may often be compromised. Speech comprehension may be significantly impaired during the end-stage of the disease."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan