Spotting the Signs: Alzheimer's Disease | Knowing If It's Alzheimer's Or Just Typical Age-Related Changes

According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to 14 million.

Detecting symptoms of Alzheimer's disease as early as possible can be critical to provide appropriate care and avoid potentially dangerous situations. And family and friends can play a vital role in recognizing and calling attention to these changes in behavior, especially for older adults who live alone.

While celebrating with loved ones this holiday season, Home Instead Senior Care encourages everyone to become more familiar with the symptoms of Alzheimer's, to be more aware so that critical warning signs are not overlooked.

Although many are aware that Alzheimer's disease affects a person's memory, there are several other lesser-known indicators that commonly go unnoticed such as notable changes in mood or personality, difficulty completing familiar tasks, trouble pronouncing words or writing, and increased anxiety.

Lakelyn Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care gerontologist and caregiver advocate, says, "People get wrapped up in the holidays and can miss important signs that a family member needs help - and doesn't even know it." She asks families to be mindful of the following signs that a loved one is struggling:

* Disruption of daily life. Is your loved one easily confused by changes to his or her routine? Are they beginning to forget everyday tasks, such as taking medication, feeding a pet or paying bills?

* Unusual behaviors. Have you noticed they seem unusually agitated or upset? Does it seem like his or her personality has shifted? Do they seem depressed or down?

* Disengaged with family. Is your loved one having a hard time remembering names of familiar family members? Does it look as if his or her mind is going blank during conversations? Are they having trouble keeping up with topics of discussion?

* Impairments in mobility and judgement. Do they seem afraid or unsure when using stairs? Do they hesitate before taking steps or going down ramps? A decline in cognitive ability can also affect the senses, impairing depth perception and hearing.

* Loss of words. Does it seem they are forgetting words for everyday objects, such as toothbrushes, spoons or cups? Are they slow to form sentences or respond to questions?

"It's important that we walk alongside our love ones in the aging process to ensure they are living safe and healthy lives," explains Hogan. "This holiday season, consider the signs that may indicate early-onset or developed Alzheimer's disease and talk to your senior relative or their caregiver about ways to accommodate their symptoms."

For additional tips and resources on spotting the signs of Alzheimer's, go to or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office or (NewsUSA) 

Knowing If It's Alzheimer's Or Just Typical Age-Related Changes

(NewsUSA) - Maybe your mom forgot where she parked her car. Or maybe you had to resort to describing "the thing that gets the creases out of clothes" to a salesperson because you couldn't remember the word "iron."

In either case, part of you may have been worried it could be … Alzheimer's disease. With good reason.

Every 65 seconds, someone in the U.S. joins the more than 5 million Americans now living with this fatal brain disease, which slowly destroys memory and thinking skills before ultimately making even a simple thing like swallowing impossible. And with no current cure, it's no wonder a recent poll found that no other life-threatening condition - not cancer, not strokes - instills more fear among those 65 and older.

"One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia," says a spokesperson for the association. "But it isn't just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under age 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer's disease."

To help raise awareness and critical funds for care, support and research, the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's will be held through November in more than 600 communities nationwide. It's the largest event of its kind, and the financial services firm Edward Jones has committed to raising $12 million over five years as its national presenting sponsor.

"This is about empathy," says the firm's Ken Cella. "And not just for the estimated 150,000 Edward Jones clients suffering from Alzheimer's, or another dementia, and those upending their lives to care for them."

Given all the understandable fear surrounding the disease, it's important to distinguish between what may be early symptoms of Alzheimer's or another dementia and the typical age-related changes most everyone experiences now and then:

* Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. (A typical age-related change: Sometimes forgetting appointments or names, but remembering them later.)

* Difficulty completing familiar tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules of a favorite game. (A typical age-related change: Occasionally needing help recording a TV show.)

* Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Vision problems can be a symptom for some. That may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading, and they may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast that cause issues with driving. (A typical age-related change: Vision changes related to cataracts.)

* Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. They may put things in unusual places - and even accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses. (A typical age-related change: Occasionally misplacing things and retracing steps to find them.)

* Withdrawal from work or social activities. They may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation, which can cause them to withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. (A typical age-related change: Sometimes feeling uninterested in the family or social obligations.)

* Changes in mood and personality. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may also be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone. (A typical age-related change: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.)

If you notice one or more signs, the Alzheimer's Association advises consulting a doctor. For more info, visit