Early Alzheimer's Symptoms

Recognizing possible Alzheimer’s symptoms is not always easy. Most of us know that Alzheimer’s disease is about forgetting, forgetting how to do daily tasks; forgetting something that just happened; forgetting family members and friends.

Surprisingly the first symptoms that you may observe can have nothing to do with forgetting and everything to do with how well your family member can manage their own life.

Alzheimer’s symptoms, at least at first, are easy to overlook or explain away. That’s part of what makes it so tricky to get help in the early stages. Many times we might attribute the changes we see in our family member to their age or stress. The early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can look like the stereotypes we have about getting older.

Keep in mind that other conditions like depression can look like early Alzheimer's symptoms. Every system in our body changes as we age.

By becoming familiar with the common changes that an aging person experiences, we can know when to seek help.

Use this information as a guide and encourage your family member to discuss any potential symptoms with their doctor.

Possible early Alzheimer’s symptoms to watch for:

  • Personality changes where your family member becomes grumpy, apathetic, withdrawn and/or sad on an ongoing basis.
  • Having trouble with more complex, multi-part tasks especially if these are activities that they would have successfully completed in the past. You might see more problems with tasks requiring math like balancing the check book or understanding financial transactions. Your family member may start getting poor performance reviews or reprimands at work if they are still working.
  • Withdrawing from socializing, your family member stops attending parties or family gathers or wants to leave early. They find crowds and busy events overwhelming or upsetting.
  • No longer interested in people, things and activities that they used to enjoy. They feel apathetic and have trouble initiating and completing projects.
  • They have problems with their vision and start having accidents like tripping over things they didn’t see.

Many families of Alzheimer’s patients retroactively recognize the early warning Alzheimer’s symptoms. The best attitude for detecting any kind of change in your own or a family member’s health is to be curious about changes in mood, behavior and abilities and get changes checked out.

Learn what normal aging looks like and break the habit of attributing all the changes you see to the aging process

Leave the Early Alzheimer's Symptoms page and return to the Understanding-Dementia Home page.