The Top 10 Symptoms of Alzheimers and Related Dementias

Here are the top 10 symptoms or signs of Alzheimers and related dementias.

Keep in mind that these syptoms or signs are present in other forms of dementia- such as vascular and frontal-temporal dementia.

So if you or a loved one are experiencing any of the following signs- it does not automatically mean that you have Alzheimer's.

It does mean that an examination by a dementia professional is needed to make an accurate diagnosis.

Top 10 Alzheimers Symptoms:

1.) Memory loss.

Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of Alzheimer's. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.

• What’s average? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

2.) Difficulty performing familiar tasks.

People with Alzheimers often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.

• What’s average? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.

3.) Problems with language.

People with dementia often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for “the thing for my mouth.”

• What’s average? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

4.) Disorientation to time and place.

People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get home.

• What’s average? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.

5.) Poor or decreased judgment.

Those with dementia may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.

• What’s average? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.

6.) Problems with abstract thinking. Someone with dementia may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.

• What’s average? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.

7.) Misplacing things.

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

• What’s average? Misplacing keys or wallet temporarily.

8.) Change in mood or behavior.

Someone with dementia may show rapid mood swings—from calm to tears to anger—for no apparent reason.

• What’s average? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.

9.) Changes in personality.

The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.

• What’s average? People’s personalities tend to remain stable throughout life. However- personality may change somewhat with age.

10.) Loss of initiative. A person with Alzheimer's may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities. However- this symptom is associated with mood disorders such as depression.

• What’s average? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.

NOTE: Many of the "average" symptoms listed above do not represent optimal brain function in 50 or 60 year olds.

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Dr. Tom Harding Neuropsychologist Neuroscientist                  Author

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