Monday, November 9, 2015

Top 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

(Salt Lake, UT) – The holidays may be filled with cheer but for many Utah families, the busyness and stress of this time of year is also filled with challenge and heartache as their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease was the 6th leading cause of death for Utahns in 2014, claiming 584 lives. An estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages are living with the disease.

“Traditional holiday activities may change as families cope with a loved one’s changing behavior or memory loss,” said Lynn Meinor, Alzheimer’s State Plan Specialist with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). “Avoiding situations that further confuse or frustrate the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s is important, and involving your loved ones in holiday plans early on can help them feel safe and included.”

While Alzheimer’s disease cannot be prevented or cured, early diagnosis can help individuals and families get proper treatment and prepare for the future. Individuals may experience one or more of the top 10 warning signs in varying degrees:
  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over again, or needing to rely on memory aids or family members for things they used to be able to handle on their own.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems, such as having trouble following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as trouble driving to a familiar location, remembering the rules of a favorite game, or forgetting how to do tasks at work.  
  4. Confusion with time or place, such as forgetting where they are or how they got there or understanding if something is not happening immediately.  
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, such as difficulty with reading, judging distances, or determining colors or contrasts.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing, such as following a conversation, repeating themselves over and over again, finding the right word, or calling things by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. People with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places, lose things, or accuse others of stealing because they can’t remember where they placed an item.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may mismanage money, giving large amounts to telemarketers, or pay less attention to grooming and personal appearance.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities or trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or completing a favorite hobby.
  10. Changes in mood and personality, such as becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.
“Each individual is unique and may show signs of Alzheimer's disease in different degrees” says Melissa Lee, Communication Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter. “If you notice any of them in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. With early detection, you can get the maximum benefit from the treatments that are available.”

Utah is projected to have one of the highest per capita prevalence increases in Alzheimer’s disease among all states. In response to this unprecedented growth, the Utah State Legislature provided funding to the UDOH in 2015 to implement the Utah State Plan for Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias.

Free resources for individuals and families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease are available by calling the Alzheimer’s Association toll-free 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or by visiting

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Media Contact:
Lynn Meinor
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6198
Melissa Lee
Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter
(o) 801-265-1944