What's Normal? What's Not? Know the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

Mother and her adult daughter embrace

After designating a National Alzheimer's Disease Week in 1982, President Ronald Reagan helped launch a national campaign against Alzheimer's disease in 1983. President Reagan called members of the Alzheimer's Association to the White House for the signing of a proclamation declaring that November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month (NADAM). This year marks NADAM's 30th anniversary.

In honor and celebration of NADAM we offer What's Normal? What's Not? Know the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's. It's not uncommon to have questions related to cognitive impairment and memory challenges, especially as we age. Know the 10 Warning Signs is a tool that has proven to be informative and instructive in helping discern what's normal and what's not.

Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not a normal part of aging. It may be a sign of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, which cause changes in thinking, reasoning and behavior. Although more common in people 65 and older, it can also strike those in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

This list of 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's can help you understand if your memory loss is a serious health concern or a typical age-related change. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you know, don't ignore them. See your doctor for a check-up. There are other conditions, some that are treatable, that could be causing the signs.

Early diagnosis gives you a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future. If you have questions, call the Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline anytime at 800-272-3900.

  1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life. What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. What's a typical age-related change? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure. What's a typical age-related change? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
  4. Confusion with time or place. What's a typical age-related change? Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. What's a typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. What's a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment. What's a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. What's a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
  10. Changes in mood and personality. What's a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

For more information about the 10 warning signs and early detection and diagnosis, contact the Alzheimer's Association, Western and Central Washington State Chapter at 800-272-3900 or visit www.alzwa.org.

Free Screenings on National Memory Screening Day

As part of National Memory Screening Day—an annual Alzheimer's Foundation of America initiative—Providence ElderPlace and Park Place Assisted Living will offer free, confidential memory screenings. Qualified healthcare professionals from Providence ElderPlace will administer memory screenings and provide educational materials about memory concerns, brain health, and caregiving on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Park Place Assisted Living (6900 37th Avenue South, in Seattle).

The face-to-face screenings consist of a series of questions and tasks, and take five to 10 minutes to administer. Memory screenings are appropriate for anyone concerned about memory loss or experiencing warning signs of dementia; whose family and friends have noticed changes in them; who believe they are at risk due to a family history of dementia; or who want to see how their memory is now and for future comparisons.

Screeners emphasize that results are not a diagnosis. Individuals who score poorly, as well as those who still have concerns, are encouraged to pursue a full medical examination.

For more information about National Memory Screening Day, call 866-232-8484 or visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org.