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10 Signs of Alzheimer's

One of the most widely circulated and detailed descriptions of Alzheimer's disease comes from the Alzheimer's Association. The list is published not as a diagnostic device, but as a way to help caregivers and loved ones spot potentially disease-related behaviors that require medical evaluation.

1. Memory loss that affects job skills. It's normal to occasionally forget an assignment, deadline or colleague's name, but frequent forgetfulness or unexplainable confusion at home or in the workplace may signal that something's wrong.

2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. Busy people get distracted from time to time. For example, you might leave something on the stove too long or not remember to serve part of a meal. People with Alzheimer's might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it but also forget they made it.

3. Problems with language. Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making his or her sentences difficult to understand.

4. Disorientation to time and place. It's normal to momentarily forget the day of the week or what you need from the store. But people with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.

5. Poor or decreased judgment. Choosing not to bring a sweater or coat along on a chilly night is a common mistake. A person with Alzheimer's, however, may dress inappropriately in more noticeable ways, wearing a bathrobe to the store or several blouses on a hot day.

6. Problems with abstract thinking. Balancing a checkbook can be challenging for many people, but for someone with Alzheimer's, recognizing numbers or performing basic calculation may be impossible.

7. Misplacing things. Everyone temporarily misplaces a wallet or keys from time to time. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put these and other items in inappropriate places – such as an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl – and then not recall how they got there.

8. Changes in mood or behavior. Everyone experiences a broad range of emotions – it's part of being human. People with Alzheimer's tend to exhibit more rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.

9. Changes in personality. People's personalities may change somewhat as they age. But a person with Alzheimer's can change dramatically, either suddenly or over a period of time. Someone who is generally easygoing may become angry, suspicious or fearful.

10. Loss of initiative. It's normal to tire of housework, business activities or social obligations, but most people retain or eventually regain their interest. The person with Alzheimer's disease may remain uninterested and uninvolved in many or all of his usual pursuits.

 "Alzheimer's Disease Process," from the Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center or the National Institute on Aging. (56K modem)
 "Alzheimer's Disease Process" (28K modem)
Alzheimer's Resources
 Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center
 Alzheimer's Association
 Alzheimer's Support
Another Painkiller Linked to Heart Risk
NIH researchers uncovered the potential problem with naproxen, an Aleve ingredient, last Friday during a quick review of data from a large, ongoing Alzheimer's disease study.
 Video: Aleve Risks Cited

In the News
Medicare Will Pay for Alzheimer's Scan: Doubts About Technology Lead Agency to Cover Only Some Patients (Post, Sept. 17, 2004)

Illuminating a Dark Path Ahead: For Va. Man With Alzheimer's, End of Reagan's Life Hints at Future (Post, June 13, 2004)

Into the Darkness of the Mind: Alzheimer's Cost U.S. Businesses About $61 Billion Last Year (, Dec. 2, 2003; 2:19 PM)

FDA Approves Alzheimer's Drug: Mix of Old and New Medicines Helps Even Severe Cases (Post, Oct. 18, 2003)

Study Links Excess Weight To Likelihood of Alzheimer's: Risk Increases in Women Overweight at 70 (Post, July 15, 2003)

Mind Games May Trump Alzheimer's: Study Cites Effects Of Bridge, Chess (Post, June 19, 2003)

Dropped Alzheimer's Drug Reversed Disease in Some (Post, May 22, 2003)

Drug Shows Promise in Treating Alzheimer's: Worst Stages Helped, New Studies Suggest (Post, April 3, 2003)

Struggling to Avoid Alzheimer's Legacy: Patients' Relatives Try Vitamins, Mental Exercises (Post, Feb. 23, 2003)


With Police Help, a Safe Return: Area Officers Seek To Improve Response When Alzheimer's Patients Go Astray (Post, Feb. 20, 2003)

Body's First Defense May Be Root of Diseases: Cancer, Even Alzheimer's, May Begin With Inflammation (Post, Feb. 16, 2003)

Gene Variation Appears to Affect Humans' Ability to Remember: Data Could Lead Someday to Doctors' Ability to Predict Such Brain-Destroying Diseases as Parkinson's (Post, Jan. 24, 2003)

Clinical Trials for Alzheimer's (Post, Dec. 17, 2002)

An Uncertain Inheritance: Enrolled in the Same Alzheimer's Study as Her Late Father, She Hopes for a Better Outcome (Post, Dec. 17, 2002)

Reagan's Condition Said to Be Worsening (Post, Aug. 11, 2002)

Charlton Heston Reveals He May Have Alzheimer's: 'Please Feel No Sympathy For Me,' Actor Tells Fans (Post, Aug. 10, 2002)

Creator of Dear Abby Has Alzheimer's (Post, Aug. 7, 2002)

Where to Get Help (Post, July 16, 2002)

© 2002-2005 The Washington Post Company

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