Memory loss is the symptom everybody worried about
Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia seems to focus on. After all,
it's distressing -- and increasingly obvious. Yet there are other common
symptoms of Alzheimer's or dementia that can turn up even earlier, researchers
Sometimes, according to memory experts, even doctors miss
early dementia signs because they're focused on memory loss to the exclusion of
In fact, in 2011 Spanish researchers found that more than a
third of adults who go on to develop early-onset Alzheimer's (the kind that
appears before age 65) have the following symptoms early in the disease, even
before memory loss is apparent. These symptoms can also be the first to appear
among adults who develop Alzheimer's after age 65.
Of course, if you notice any of these symptoms, it's
important to have them checked out by a doctor, psychologist, or other expert
in cognition and the brain.
Symptom #1: Personality Change
A warm, friendly loved one may seem to morph into a bit of a
grouch -- at first occasionally, and then increasingly. A gregarious person
still jokes and talks a lot but begins to say inappropriate things or make odd
accusations. A mild-mannered loved one begins cursing. All of these are
examples of the kinds of personality changes that can predate memory loss in
someone with dementia. Often, it's only later that friends and family look back
and realize that behaviors they found off-putting or upsetting weren't
intentional but related to the Alzheimer's.