Changes in memory are usually the first sign of Alzheimer's disease, even before there's a diagnosis. Here are three other problem areas early in the disease that may surprise you.
1. Problems with visual-spatial skills: Over time, this makes anything relying on hand-eye coordination harder. Certain sports (such as handball), hobbies (such as knitting), and driving fall into this category.
2. Problems with judgment: Making decisions involves a complex array of higher-order thinking. When some of these thinking skills are impaired, the person may seem to make unusual choices or be a poor judge of safety or character. How it shows up: problems managing money, including susceptibility to scams; trusting the wrong people; making choices that seem out of character.
3. Problems with sequences: Both memory and other complex thinking skills are involved in following a sequence, which makes this skill that we take for granted increasingly troublesome. Your loved one may quit cooking from a cookbook (recipes are too hard to follow), have trouble with new gadgets (can't follow the step-by-step instructions), or be unable to give or follow directions.