On September 18, 2013, Anita Stiens of the Alzheimer's Association of St George made an excellent presentation on understanding the difference between the normal aging process (mild cognitive impairment) and Alzheimer's. She said that memory loss can be caused by medication, poor diet, lack of sleep, Thyroid problems, certain infections, depression and excess alcohol. It is important that the individual be checked by a doctor to determine if Alzheimer's is present.
There are ten characteristics of someone with Alzheimer's:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life - One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's, especially in the early stages, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include asking for the same information over and over. Typical age‐related changes is sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems ‐ Alzheimer's patients may have difficulty in keeping track of and paying bills, performing tasks such as following a recipe. Typical of age‐related changes is making occasional errors balancing a checkbook.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure ‐ An Alzheimer's patient might go shopping with a list and forget to buy anything on the list. Typical of age‐related changes would be occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
- Confusion with time or place ‐ An Alzheimer's patient can lose track of dates, seasons and passage of time. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. Typical age‐related change might be getting confused about the day of the week (especially while on vacation) but figuring it out later.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships ‐ an Alzheimer's patient may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast which may cause problems in driving. Typical age‐related changes could be vision changes related to cataracts.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing ‐ an Alzheimer's patient has trouble joining conversations, can't find the right word or call things by the wrong word. Typical of age‐related changes would be sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps ‐ a person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual place. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again and may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. Typical age‐related changes is misplacing things from time to time, and retracing steps to find them
- Decreased or poor judgment ‐ People with Alzheimer's take longer to make decisions, use poor judgment when dealing with money becoming victims of scams and pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. Typical age-related change is making a bad decision once in a while.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities ‐ a person with Alzheimer's may not want to go to places that they have always gone to such as church, lunches with friends complaining of too much noise, light or crowds and can't pay attention. Typical age‐related changes are sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
- Changes in mood and personality ‐ The mood and personality of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, work or with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. A typical age‐related change is developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.