Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes memory loss and other changes in cognitive function. Oregon State University defines cognitive function as all the processes involved in using the brain, such as remembering things, paying attention to a conversation and solving problems. Researchers still don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s likely to be a combination of genetic factors, lifestyle-related risk factors and age-related changes in the brain.

Early detection has several benefits, such as enabling an individual with Alzheimer’s disease to qualify for clinical trials or try a greater variety of treatment options. An early diagnosis also gives family members a chance to adjust to their loved one’s changing needs. To make early detection possible, watch for these 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s: Spotting the Warning Signs

Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life

If you find yourself forgetting important dates, forgetting events or forgetting recently learned information, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. This type of memory loss disrupts daily life and makes it more difficult to live independently without putting your safety at risk. If you’re concerned about a loved one, pay close attention to determine if they need to rely on memory aids to remember important things. These aids include apps, electronic devices and reminder notes.


Senior man looking out the window concept image for the 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimers


Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

As the disease progresses, many seniors have trouble completing familiar tasks, such as doing a load of laundry, creating a weekly meal plan or remembering the steps involved in operating a common kitchen appliance. This is one of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease that can cause a high level of frustration, as the inability to complete important tasks makes it more difficult to live alone.

Confusion With Time or Place

Another one of the common warning signs of Alzheimer’s is confusion with time or place. Many people with early-stage Alzheimer’s get confused by the passage of time, causing them to lose track of where they are. Once the disease becomes more advanced, a person living with Alzheimer’s disease may start to live in the past, which often leads to confusion and agitation. For example, an individual with Alzheimer’s disease may call a loved one the wrong name or get confused when a family member looks older than expected.

Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

Vision problems are among the most common signs of Alzheimer’s. An individual with dementia may have trouble driving or problems judging distance, making it difficult for them to live independently. For some people, vision problems also make determining color difficult, making it harder to choose matching clothing items or make decisions about paint, tile and other home accents.

New Problems With Speaking or Writing

Changes in speaking and writing are among the earliest warning signs of Alzheimer’s. Many people struggle to find the right word or communicate clearly in writing. It’s also common for someone with dementia to call a familiar object by the wrong name, making it more difficult to have conversations with loved ones. These changes occur because Alzheimer’s affects the part of the brain responsible for semantic processing, or the ability to associate a word with similar terms. It is important to learn how to talk to someone with dementia to ensure effective communication and understanding.


Senior man having difficulty writing


Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s to lose track of their car keys and other important items. Some individuals put objects in unusual places and then have trouble remembering what happened to those objects, causing them to accuse loved ones of stealing their possessions. When an individual with Alzheimer’s loses something, it’s difficult for them to retrace their steps and try to find the missing item.

Poor Judgment and Decision-Making

Alzheimer’s also affects the parts of the brain involved in judgment and decision-making. As a result, many individuals with the disease make poor decisions. For example, someone with Alzheimer’s may gamble away large sums of money or get caught up in an online scam. It’s also difficult to make decisions about daily tasks, such as taking a shower or cooking a meal.

Changes in Mood and Personality

Memory loss, poor judgment and confusion with time and place may cause an older adult to become suspicious or fearful of others. Seniors who believe they’re living in the past often get agitated when they can’t find a loved one who’s passed away or when they see someone whose age doesn’t match what they remember. For example, it can be very distressing to see a fully grown son or daughter when you expect them to be in their teens.

Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems

Alzheimer’s makes it more difficult to solve problems and plan for the future, so you may have trouble balancing your checkbook, following a familiar recipe or determining the best route to follow when you go somewhere. Many people also experience difficulty concentrating, making it hard to focus on activities that involve planning ahead, such as setting an itinerary for a trip or making a list of errands to run.


Confused senior man looking at his phone


Difficulty Remembering Things That Just Happened

It’s not unusual to forget things that happened 20 or 30 years ago, so occasional forgetfulness isn’t necessarily a sign of Alzheimer’s or any other neurological disorder. If you can’t remember something that just happened, however, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. For example, you may need a dementia screening if you can’t remember how to do something a loved one just explained a few minutes ago.

Choose Memory Care for Enhanced Comfort and Safety

As Alzheimer’s progresses, these changes can make it more difficult to live alone. Catered Living at Ocean Pines is the premiere memory care home on Maryland’s Eastern shore. If you’re looking for a safe, comfortable place to live, or you have a loved one with early signs of Alzheimer’s, call (410) 208-1000 to schedule a tour. We have dementia sensory rooms at our facility, which provide a calming and therapeutic environment for residents with dementia. We also offer spacious rooms with a variety of features designed to keep residents with Alzheimer’s safe, such as built-in shower benches, grab bars and emergency alarms on exits.