Applying the word "Alzheimer's" to someone close to you can be uncomfortable, even if the signs, or symptoms, have been adding up for some time. It's much easier to gloss over strange behavior: "Oh, Mom's just getting older. "Or to rationalize: "Well, we all forget things sometimes."
Only a qualified physician can conclude with high certainty that a living person has Alzheimer's disease. But the following eight symptoms are strongly associated with the disease. If you detect these signs in someone, it would be wise to seek a medical evaluation.
Alzheimer's symptom #1: Memory lapses
- Does the person ask repetitive questions or retell stories within minutes of the first mention?
- Does he forget the names of recent acquaintances or younger family members, such as grandchildren?
- Are memory lapses growing progressively worse (such as affecting information that was previously very well known)?
- Are they happening more frequently (several times a day or within short periods of time)?
- Is this forgetfulness unusual for the person (such as sudden memory lapses in someone who prided herself on never needing grocery lists or an address book)?
Everyone forgets some things sometimes. But the person may have Alzheimer's disease if you notice these kinds of lapses.
Having problems with memory is the first and foremost symptom noticed. It's a typical Alzheimer's symptom to forget things learned recently (such as the answer to a question, an intention to do something, or a new acquaintance) but to still be able to remember things from the remote past (such as events or people from childhood, sometimes with explicit detail). In time, even long-term memories will be affected. But by then other Alzheimer's symptoms will have appeared.