By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com editor
How do you know if your parent has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia? If dad continually forgets where he puts his keys, or mom seems to get easily confused these days, does it mean they have Alzheimer’s? Not necessarily. Only a doctor can diagnose the condition. Every person experiences different symptoms, to different degrees. But here are some Alzheimer’s warning signs to look for.
1. Forgetfulness and memory loss
The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. However, just because dad can’t remember where he put his shoes or calls the grandkids by the wrong name doesn’t mean he has Alzheimer’s. Anyone can sometimes forget the details of a conversation, but early onset Alzheimer’s causes a person to forget entire conversations that took place only moments ago. Alzheimer’s usually affects short-term memory first, meaning the person forgets information that he/she recently learned. They have trouble remembering important dates and events. They ask for the same information over and over again. They may even forget the faces of family members.
2. Lack of concentration and confusion
Getting confused about times and places is a common sign of Alzheimer’s. Your mom or dad may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. People with Alzheimer’s may forget where they are, or how they got there. They might have difficulty understanding that an event happened in the past, or will be occurring in the future, versus something that is happening in the present. They lose track of the seasons and passage of time.
3. Losing things
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. For example, misplacing your keys can a happen to anyone, but finding lost keys in the freezer could indicate Alzheimer’s. A person with Alzheimer’s may lose things and be unable to retrace steps to find them again. They may swear they placed an object in a certain place, and accuse others of stealing it when it doesn’t turn up where they expected to find it.