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Feature:
Alzheimer's Disease

What Are the Signs of Alzheimer's Disease?

It's important to know the signs of Alzheimer's disease. If you know the signs, you can get help right away. Some signs of the disease are listed here:

Diagnosis

Doctors now have several methods and tools to help them determine fairly accurately whether a person who is having memory problems has "possible Alzheimer's dementia" (dementia may be due to another cause) or "probable Alzheimer's dementia" (no other cause for dementia can be found).

To diagnose Alzheimer's, doctors may:

  • Ask questions about overall health, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and changes in behavior and personality
  • Conduct tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language
  • Carry out standard medical tests, such as blood and urine tests, to identify other possible causes of the problem
  • Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for research studies or to distinguish Alzheimer's from other possible causes for symptoms, like stroke or tumor

Early, accurate diagnosis can tell people whether their symptoms are from Alzheimer's or another cause, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinson's disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medications, or other conditions that may be treatable and possibly reversible.

Early Signs

  • finding it hard to remember things
  • asking the same questions over and over
  • having trouble paying bills or solving simple math problems
  • getting lost
  • losing things or putting them in odd places

Later Signs

  • forgetting how to brush your teeth or comb your hair
  • being confused about time, people, or places
  • forgetting the names of common things, such as a desk, house, or apple
  • wandering away from home

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some older people have a condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. It can be an early sign of Alzheimer's. But, not everyone with MCI will develop Alzheimer's disease.

People with MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities. MCI memory problems may include:

  • losing things often
  • forgetting to go to events or appointments
  • having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age

If you have MCI, it's important to see your doctor or specialist every 6 to 12 months. Ask him or her to check for changes in your memory and thinking.

Read More "Living with Alzheimer's Disease" Articles

Living with Alzheimer's Disease / What Are the Signs of Alzheimer's Disease? / Preventing Alzheimer's Disease / Quiz: Alzheimer's Disease / Treatment

Winter 2015 Issue: Volume 9 Number 4 Page 10