How to Recognize the Early Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is a tragic illness that robs victims and their families of years of happiness by slowly destroying the mind and personality of the person afflicted. Though there is no cure yet, there are drugs available to treat symptoms and delay progression of Alzheimer's if it is diagnosed early. A new test called a bio-barcode assay, which may be able to identify a certain protein in spinal fluid associated with the disease, is being studied to determine its usefulness in the early detection of the disease. Hopefully this will prove to be a key tool in diagnosis and treatment in the near future. Until then, being aware of the early symptoms of Alzheimer's is the best way to catch it in its early stages.


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    Watch for memory loss, one of the first signs of the disease. If someone has trouble recalling where they parked the car or what they went to get in the pantry, that is not unusual and may be a normal part of aging. The loss associated with early Alzheimer's affects short term memory, things that recently happened, such as not remembering that they ate lunch an hour ago. Another indicator may be that they are increasingly and persistently misplacing everyday objects like glasses or keys. Or putting the items in unusual places, like the refrigerator.
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    Listen carefully. The inability to think of the word for common items like a spoon or hairbrush may also occur. This is not the same as being at a momentary loss of a descriptive word for something. The individual no longer knows what the object is called and may make-up or use a word that sounds like or has a similar meaning for the object. Speech and understanding become slower and they may lose their train of thought in mid sentence.
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    Pay attention. Difficulty learning new things and making new memories is another indicator. The individual has a shorter attention span, may ask repetitive questions, and resists change. They also have trouble organizing their thoughts and thinking logically. This loss of processing skills might be evident in the inability to do things such as balance a checkbook or forgetting to pay for an item.
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    Spend time observing. Being unable to perform simple everyday tasks as effortlessly as they once did is another symptom of mild Alzheimer's. The individual may take longer doing routine things and become agitated if rushed. They may also get lost easily, even going to familiar places, and sleep patterns can become disturbed.
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    Be aware of behavioral changes. One of the earliest changes might be a loss of interest in life or things once enjoyed. Less energy, a lack of spontaneity, emotional outbursts, and unprovoked hostility are other symptoms. The individual may also experience a loss of inhibition causing behavior such as undressing in public or making inappropriate remarks. The loss of the ability to judge time and space and what's going on around them can contribute to paranoid behavior.
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    Other signs can include going outside in their nightie/pyjamas, neglect of personal grooming and hygiene, accusing people of stealing/moving/hiding belongings.


  • Early diagnosis gives the patient and family the time needed to make decisions about the future, including health care, financial and legal concerns.
  • Beginning treatment as soon as possible will make the individual afflicted more comfortable and better able to independently perform certain personal functions longer. This will also make things easier for the caregiver.
  • Drugs do exist that can treat some symptoms of the disease such as improving memory and calming anxieties. It is more likely that symptoms will respond to treatments early in the disease.


  • The symptoms listed above are associated with dementia. Mild dementia can be caused by early or mild Alzheimer's Disease, but could also be symptoms of other illnesses - including dehydration, vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems and reaction to medicines - which are treatable and reversible. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you care about it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
  • Just because you forget things (car keys, water bottle, etc.) does not mean you have Alzheimer's disease. Check with a doctor if you think you have Alzheimer's.

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Categories: Alzheimer's Disease