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What are the early signs of Alzheimer's? My MIL's memory is not so good anymore....

By May 19, 2009 - 1:10pm
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How do you know what is just normal memory loss as you grow older (or, are surrounded by three screaming grandchildren and are just preoccupied) vs. memory loss from Alzheimer's? What if she has other chronic illnesses (diabetes); does that increase her chances?

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EmpowHER Guest

The most primary symptom of Alzheimers disease is difficulty in remembering newly learned things.This happens because Alzheimers gets affected primarily in the learning part of brain.

March 10, 2011 - 3:46am
EmpowHER Guest

Alzheimer's Symptom begin slowly at first. The only Alzheimer’s symptom may be mild forgetfulness, which is easily confused with age related memory change. However, as the disease goes on, Alzheimer’s symptoms are more easily noticed and cause family members to seek medical help.

February 10, 2011 - 11:50pm

There is still a lot that it unknown about Alzheimer's disease, but here is some information for you, from the EmpowHer medical encyclopedia:

Risk factors include:
* Age: 65 and older
* Previous serious, traumatic brain injury
* Lower educational achievement
* Down's syndrome
* Down's syndrome in a first-degree relative
* Women under 35 who give birth to a child with Down's syndrome
* Smoking
* Family history of Alzheimer's disease
* Presence of a certain variety type of apolipoprotein (APOE-e4)
* Depression
* Elevated levels of homocysteine
* Heart disease

Since you mentioned that your MIL (mother-in-law) has diabetes, "Researchers are studying the following to see if they are related to Alzheimer's disease":
* Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiency in childhood
* Exposure to electromagnetic fields
* Excess metal in the blood, especially zinc, copper, aluminum, and iron
* Certain viral infections
* Diabetes
* High Cholesterol

Your MIL may be preoccupied by all of her grandchildren, and if her memory loss is due to not being able to remember things that are routine and familiar, those are more of the warning signs (compared to forgetting what she had for dinner three nights ago; something many people would have a difficult time recalling)

Symptoms include:
* Increasing trouble remembering things, such as
o How to get to familiar places
o Names of friends and family members
o Where common objects are kept
o Simple math
o How to perform tasks (eg cooking, dressing, bathing)
* Trouble concentrating on tasks
* Trouble completing sentences due to lost or forgotten words (progresses to a complete inability to speak)
* Difficulty with daily life tasks such as bill paying and housekeeping
* Inability to remember the date, time of day, season
* Mood swings
* Withdrawal, loss of interest in usual activities
* Slow, shuffling walk
* Poor coordination
* Slowness and then loss of purposeful movement

Hopefully this information is useful, in order for you to clue into what her memory lapses are from, or if you see any of these other symptoms.

You might also be interested in the Alzheimer's Association online information:
- Alzheimer's myths
- 10 signs of Alzheimer's, which includes:
1) Memory changes that disrupt daily life
2) Challenges in planning or solving problems (following a recipe, for example)
3) Difficulty with familiar tasks
4) Confusion with time or place
5) New problems with words in speaking or writing
6) Trouble understanding visual images
7) Misplacing things, and unable to retrace steps to find them
8) Decreased/poor judgment
9) Withdrawal from social activities
10) Changes in mood or personality

I liked this list from the Alzheimer's Association, as for each of the 10 warning signs, it also included what's typical (for example: it's typical for people to not be able to find the right word at times, but a warning sign is when they are unable to finish what they were talking about)

May 19, 2009 - 2:03pm
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