Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease in Seniors

February 25, 2013

In this article, we will discuss the most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Forgetfulness or memory delays are often regarded as a part of the normal aging process. Older people generally need more time to learn something new or remember old things.

It is normal for seniors to forget the name of a person or where they kept something that they use very often. However, the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s patients keeps getting worse. They tend to repeat the same questions and statements over and over again without realizing they are doing it. They also become forgetful in the middle of a conversation and often forget to keep their medical/doctor’s appointments, etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

Initially increased forgetfulness may be the only symptom. It’s normal to lose track of where keys are or to forget the name of an acquaintance.  This memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients persists and worsens, affecting their ability to function at work places and at home. Eventually Alzheimer’s patients forget the names of their family members and close friends.

People with Alzheimer’s disease may experience the following symptoms during the early stages:

Short-term memory loss

Most Alzheimer’s patients go through short-term memory loss.  They have a tendency to forget the name of family members or close friends. They repeat the same questions and statements again and again.  They also become forgetful in the middle of a conversation and often misplace things and possessions.

Disorientation and misinterpreting their surroundings and their relationships

Patients can suddenly become disoriented about the day, the season, place where they are at, and even their current life circumstances. Alzheimer’s also makes their brain unable to interpret what they see, making it difficult for them to understand their surroundings.  During these times, patients generally tend to get lost in places that they are familiar with. They also find it difficult to perform familiar tasks and routine chores.

Problems in speaking, reading, writing, and understanding

Patients start experiencing difficulty in finding the right words to identify objects, express their thoughts, or carry out conversations. They might also experience difficulty in abstract concepts like numbers or money. They can also become unable to read and write.

Misplacing things in inappropriate places

Alzheimer’s patients also have the tendency to misplace things.  They may put things in unusual places and are unable to trace those things again after some time. More often than not, they put things in illogical places.

Poor or decreased judgment

Alzheimer’s patients can also lose their abilities to make judgments and decisions.  Sometimes, they may misinterpret money and other financial matters. They can also show less or a lack of attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

Problems with abstract thinking

Alzheimer’s disease also causes difficulty in concentrating and thinking, especially about abstract concepts like numbers. It may be challenging to manage finances, balance checkbooks, and keep track of or pay bills on time.  Some of these difficulties may progress to a complete inability to recognize and deal with numbers.

Making judgments and decisions

It also becomes challenging to respond effectively to everyday problems like food burning on the stove. Unexpected driving situations may also be challenging if the patient is not able to have clear judgment about the distance from his/her car to the next one or to discern how fast he/she should be driving on the expressways.

Drastic changes in personality and behavior

The changes that occur in patients due to Alzheimer’s disease can severely affect the way they act and feel.  They may experience depression, social withdrawal, mood swings, changes in sleeping habits, etc.  They also might be irritable, anxious, and sometimes show aggressive and/or apathetic behavior.

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