Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: 10 Early signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Posted at 10:32 AM, Apr 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-13 07:54:52-04

SOUTHWEST FLA. — The Alzheimer's Association has outlined 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease you should look out for. Fox 4 Anchor Lisa Greenberg's Grandma told her she noticed some of these signs in her husband before he was diagnosed with the disease.

Terry Wilgus Knisely said no matter how many articles you read, or how many people you talk to who are impacted by Alzheimer's, you never really know what it's like until you live it.

“You're losing your partner. They call it the long goodbye for a reason," she said.

Doctors told her that husband, Stanley, had Alzheimer's in late summer of 2020.

“Alzheimer's itself can only be diagnosed with an autopsy of the brain to find out if the plaque is in the brain. But they're using these tools to predict," Lisa's Grandma, Terry, said.

Susnan Nimnuan, the Vice President of Brightstar Care in Fort Myers and Naples, said the Alzheimer's Association has outlined signs you can pick up on that your loved one may be in the early stages of the disease.

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

Terry said she first noticed Stanley's issues with memory when he forgot how to get to a lunch spot they went to regularly.

"And I laughed, because I said, 'This is your home area, you know how to get there. We've been there before.' And he said, 'No, I'm not kidding, I really can't remember how to get there,'" she said.

That eventually turned into forgetting people's names and conversations he had.

2. Challenges in planning and solving problems

The Alzheimer's Association said this means changes in developing a plan and sticking to it, or difficulty working with numbers or following a recipe. She said you may notice your loved one having trouble concentrating or taking longer to do things than they used to.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

“Day to day: paying your bills, cleaning your house, feeding yourself, remembering to take your meds," Nimnuan said.

4. Confusion with time and place

“You see these silver alerts all the time, because these people get in the car and they go, and they don't know where they're going," Terry said.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

Nimnuan said in communities for advanced dementia patients, the flooring is usually all one solid color. That's because dark spots in a rug could be confusing and look like a hole in the ground. She said people with dementia may also walk more slowly, with less confidence because it's harder to determine where they're going.

6. New problems with words and speaking or writing

Terry said she noticed these issues in Stanley at family get-togethers.

“He just didn't really join in the conversation. I think he realized that he couldn't keep up," she said. "So he would just sit there and be very quiet, which was not like him.”

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

8. Decreased or poor judgment

“Poor judgment that is repetitive, and where you're unable to recognize that you've made a poor decision, that's concerning,” Nimnuan said.

She said examples include poorly managing money or misusing medications.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

Lisa's Grandma said before his Alzheimer's diagnosis, Stanley was a very social guy.

“Antique cars were a hobby of his. If we would go on to a car show, we'd be there 10 minutes, and he was ready to leave. Where before, he wanted to go to all the different fellow car collectors and talk to them about their car, where they found it,” she said.

10. Changes in mood and personality

"His whole personality really changed," Terry said. "He just became a different person.”

For more information on Alzheimer's Disease and the resources available, you can call the Alzheimer's Association's 24/7 helpline: 1 (800) 272-3900.