BOSTON — New studies suggest that noticing you are having memory or thinking problems could be the earliest sign of Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association lists these 10 warning signs, plus advice on how to tell them from normal age-related changes:
—Memory changes that disrupt daily life. Forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, relying more on reminder notes and other memory aids. Normal aging: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
—Challenges in planning or solving problems. Changes in ability to work with numbers, follow a recipe, track bills. Normal aging: Occasional mistakes when balancing a checkbook.
—Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Trouble driving somewhere familiar, managing a budget at work, remembering rules of a game. Normal aging: Occasionally needing help with settings on a microwave or to record a TV show.
—Confusion with time or place. Losing track of dates or seasons; forgetting where they are or how they got there. Normal aging: Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
—Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Difficulty reading, judging distance, determining color. Normal aging: Vision changes from cataracts.
—New problems with words in speaking or writing. Trouble following or joining a conversation, repeating themselves. Normal aging: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
—Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Putting things in unusual places, losing things, accusing others of stealing. Normal aging: Occasionally misplacing things and retracing steps to find them.
—Decreased or poor judgment. Bad moves with money, less attention to grooming. Normal aging: Making a bad decision once in a while.
—Withdrawal from work or social activities. Normal aging: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
—Changes in mood and personality. Becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. Normal aging: Developing specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
Alzheimer's info: http://www.alzheimers.gov
Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org
Warning signs: http://www.alz.org/10signs