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Watch for Symptoms That Point to Alzheimer’s

We’ve all misplaced our glasses or keys and had a moment of panic thinking it might mean Alzheimer’s. In most cases, it’s just plain old ordinary forgetfulness – or trying to do too many things at once. But, depending on your age, health and family history, confusion or memory loss just might be a sign of something more serious.

Everyone experiences moments of confusion -- and they do tend to occur more often as we age. Here are some incidents that are common and, as stand-alone occurrences, shouldn’t be cause for concern: Forgetting the date or even day, but remembering it or knowing how to figure it out it later; losing your keys or purse; forgetting to pay one bill; having trouble finding the right word.

Here’s a look at some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Notice how they differ. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms instead of the occasional memory lapse described above, visit your doctor who can help you determine the cause.

Memory loss that affects daily routine – Forgetting new information, important plans or dates can be signs of Alzheimer’s. Asking the same questions many times indicates they aren’t able to retain the information.

Problem-solving difficulties – Watch for changes in a person’s ability to handle their finances or pay bills. Difficulty following a much-used recipe may be another indicator.

Difficulty with familiar tasks – Confusion about how to drive to a familiar location – or how to operate the car – can be a concern. Also be alert to problems handling other tasks that were previously no problem at all, such as playing a game or making dinner.

Time or place awareness – Losing track of dates or even seasons is a common indicator of Alzheimer’s. Going somewhere and forgetting how to get home is another.

Visual perception – Some people with Alzheimer’s begin to have trouble reading or walking. Depth perception can become an issue, resulting in perfectly healthy seniors shuffling their feet when they walk.

Word problems – Trouble carrying on a conversation or using inappropriate words is often a sign of Alzheimer’s. It’s very common for sufferers to stop in the middle of a sentence and not remember what they were saying. Another trait associated with Alzheimer’s is when the person describes something instead of saying the word – saying “that white drink ” to mean wine or milk or “hand-clock” in place of watch.

Losing things – While we all lose things, people with Alzheimer’s are more apt to be unable to retrace their steps to find the lost object. They may also put things in unusual places, such as cereal or clothing in the refrigerator.

Poor decision-making – Changes in judgment or decision-making can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Giving money to telemarketers or strangers is common – even for people who were once frugal with their finances. Wearing inappropriate clothing for the season or forgetting their grooming is another sign.

Withdrawing from everyday life – Someone who used to love to read or play bridge may show no interest in the activity. Those with Alzheimer’s sometimes withdraw from activities because they find it hard to participate -- and they are often trying to keep others from noticing the challenges they are facing.