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10 Early Signs of Alzheimer's You May Have Missed

Written by Jennifer Wegerer
 about the author
6 minute readLast updated April 3, 2023

Mom forgot where her keys are again! Is forgetting something once in a while like this a normal sign of aging? Or is it something more? It’s natural to be concerned for your loved one’s health and safety. You may notice some of their habits change over time, which may be due to normal aging. However, knowing the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease can help you understand how to better support your loved one.

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Is Alzheimer's a normal part of aging?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. While minor changes in memory and cognition can happen naturally with age, Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes declines in memory, thinking, and behavior that worsen over time. It impairs intellectual abilities and memory enough to interfere with daily life and it accounts for over half of all dementia cases.

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Top 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Although Alzheimer’s impacts everyone a little differently, there are some common signs and symptoms that appear early on in the disease. Look for the following signs that may indicate the disease is present.

1. Difficulty remembering things that just happened.

A senior may forget dates or events, repeatedly ask for the same information, and rely more and more on family members or reminder notes to handle daily tasks.

2. Inability to plan or solve problems.

Your parent may struggle to track their spending, pay monthly bills on time, or solve simple math problems. Taking longer to do these things may be another sign.

3. Losing track of dates, seasons, time, and places.

Disorientation to time and/or place is common for people with Alzheimer’s. Forgetting where they are and how they got there are also common symptoms.

4. Misplacing things.

You might find your loved one’s items in unusual places around the house or notice them struggling to retrace their steps to look for a lost item. In some cases, they may accuse others of stealing misplaced items.

5. Mood and personality changes.

Alzheimer’s can produce anxiety, confusion, depression, and/or suspicion. It can make people become upset much more easily, especially when they’re away from home.

6. Poor decision-making.

Examples might include exercising poor judgment with money, falling victim to scams, or frivolously giving it away. Some people with Alzheimer’s may stop grooming habits or keeping themselves clean.

7. Communication difficulties.

Look for new challenges with vocabulary, such as calling things by the wrong name, an inability to follow or join a conversation, and repeating the same stories.

8. Trouble completing familiar tasks.

A senior might get lost while driving to a familiar place, forget how to cook a simple meal, or fail to remember the rules of a favorite game.

9. Vision problems.

Examples include difficulty identifying colors or contrasts,  judging distance, and reading. Poor driving may result and can be incredibly dangerous.

10. Withdrawal from social or work activities.

A senior who is experiencing one or more of the above symptoms may start avoiding situations where their cognitive changes might be noticed. Seniors often give up hobbies and avoid social situations for this reason, which can negatively impact their physical and mental health.

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Benefits of an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis

People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may experience just one early warning sign or several — and signs will show in varying degrees. If you’re concerned that a loved one’s memory loss may be serious, consult with a doctor. While Alzheimer’s currently has no cure, an early diagnosis means early treatment. That increases a person’s chances of maintaining their independence for as long as possible and being able to participate in planning for their future.


Meet the Author
Jennifer Wegerer

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom (of which OurParents is a trademark) and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.