Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Defined by a set of symptoms that interfere with brain functions, dementia is a disorder that affects a person’s memory, personality, and reasoning. Almost 200,000 Australians and over 30,000 New Zealanders have Alzheimer’s disease and for most people, the symptoms begin to appear after age 65.
Many of us associate Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss. This symptom can be a prominent early warning sign because the disease affects the part of the brain that controls memory. But what are some of the other signs that it may be time to speak with a healthcare provider about Alzheimer’s? The following are seven early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Frequent memory loss: A good example is a grandfather who suddenly starts calling his grandchildren by the wrong names—and does so repeatedly over a number of visits
- Repeating questions: It’s very common to hear family members of an Alzheimer’s patient say that they will ask the same question every 10 minutes, despite receiving an answer the first time
- Difficulties operating familiar equipment: Forgetting how to use the microwave or washing machine, for example
- Getting lost in familiar areas: Not being able to remember how to get home from the grocery store or the bank, for example
- Difficulties paying bills on time: When someone who was always in charge of paying the bills suddenly starts receiving late notices or overdrawing an account
- Not being properly groomed: Someone who is usually well groomed starts showing up to places looking dishevelled
- Changes in behaviour: When someone withdraws from work or social activities or undergoes changes in mood and personality
If you recognose several of these signs in a family member or someone you care about, it’s important to talk with a healthcare provider. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, you should work with a healthcare professional who can diagnose the condition and recommend the best ways to manage symptoms and provide support.
For information about Alzheimer’s clinical research and trials that may be right for you or your loved one, go to http://www.anzctr.org.au/Default.aspx and search: Alzheimer’s Disease, memory loss, or dementia.
Doctor Margaret Frazer, FAAN, is a neurologist and Senior Medical Director at Pfizer
- 1. US Alzheimer’s Association. Accessed 26/01/2017.
- 2. AIHW. Dementia in Australia. 2012.
- 3. Deloitte Access Economics 2012. Updated Dementia Economic Impact Report, 2011, New Zealand.
- 4. Alzheimer’s New Zealand. Accessed 26/01/2017.