How to Recognize Signs of Alzheimer’s in Loved Ones


A forgotten lunch date here and a sudden mood change there might not seem like much to be concerned about. But when put together, these can be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects memory, communication, judgement and quality of life.

“Getting someone with Alzheimer’s disease into treatment early gives us the best opportunity to manage it and stay on top of symptoms,” says Cindy Marshall, MD, medical director at the Memory Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

“We have medications that can help treat symptoms like depression, irritability and agitation.”

Though it’s easy to overlook early indications, it’s important to pay attention to them and seek help. Here, we review the Alzheimer’s Association’s top warning signs.

Memory loss that disrupts life.

Look for forgetting appointments or not recalling recent conversations.

Challenges in solving problems or planning.

Look for simple activities like balancing a checkbook becoming more difficult and taking longer.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or work.

Look for struggling to prepare a favorite meal.

Confusion with time or place.

Look for talking about an event that occurred some time ago as if it were recent.

Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships.

Look for difficulty driving, brought on by challenges judging distance.

New problems with speaking or writing.

Look for trouble finding the right words for things.

Misplacing items and losing the ability to retrace steps.

Look for losing a wallet or purse and believe it was stolen.

Withdrawal from work or social activities.

Look for disinterest in activities once enjoyed, like church and family get-togethers.

“Apathy can be one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Marshall notes.

Changes in mood or personality.

Look for becoming depressed, irritable, anxious or suspicious.

Decreased or poor judgement.

Look for responding to mail solicitations requesting money that most people would ignore.

Get the help you need. To learn more about Alzheimer’s care and caregiver support, visit BaylorHealth.com/MemoryCenter or call 1-800-4BAYLOR.

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How to Recognize Signs of Alzheimer’s in Loved Ones