In recognition of June being Elder Abuse Month and Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, the Tennessee Credit Union League is featuring the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This information is pertinent not only for family situations but also for being able to spot warning signs when working with members who may struggle with memory loss. The following article was provided by the Alzheimer’s Association®, Tennessee Chapter.
Currently, an estimated 120,000 people are currently living with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Tennessee
with an estimated 367,000 family and friends serving as unpaid caregivers. In collaboration with experts
in the field, the Alzheimer’s Association® created a list of warning signs to help people identify symptoms that may be related to Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
NOTE: It’s possible for individuals to experience one or more of these signs in varying degrees. It is not
necessary to experience every sign in order to raise concern.
- Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting
recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the
same questions repeatedly, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids.
- Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems
Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow
a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track
of monthly bills.
- Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
People living with Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to complete routine tasks. Sometimes
they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering
the rules of a favorite game.
- Confusion with Time or Place
People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They
may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they
may forget where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships
For some people, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with
balance or trouble reading. They may also have problems judging distance and determining
color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
- New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing
People living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may
stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue, or repeat themselves.
They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong
- Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps
A person living with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be
unable to go back over their steps to find them again. He or she may accuse others of stealing,
especially as the disease progresses.
- Decreased or Poor Judgment
Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use
poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping
- Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities
A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow
a conversation. As a result, he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other
engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.
- Changes in Mood and Personality
Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They can
become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home,
with friends or when out of their comfort zone.
What to Do if You Notice a Sign
If you notice one or more signs in yourself or another person, it can be difficult to know what to do. It’s
natural to feel uncertain or nervous about discussing these changes with others. However, these are
significant health concerns that should be evaluated by a doctor, and it’s important to act to figure out
what’s going on.
Have a Conversation
If you’ve noticed any of the signs in yourself, confide in someone you trust. Similarly, if you’ve noticed
memory changes in someone else, think about who would be best to approach the person, whether it’s
you or another trusted family member or friend. Have the conversation as soon as possible in a location
that will be comfortable for everyone involved.
Visit alz.org/memoryconcerns for tips on approaching memory concerns.
About Alzheimer’s Association ®
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care,
support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by
accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and
support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®. Visit alz.org or call
Help Safeguard Membership
Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Thursday, June 15. Visit the “Take Action” page for ways to help educate your staff and members. The National Center on Elder Abuse has several articles about financial abuse and exploitation. Just scroll down a bit on the page.
And if you are interested in learning more ways to safeguard members, the League is a proud sponsor of the Tennessee Elder Justice Conference on June 28 and 29 in Knoxville.