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University of Pennsylvania Alzheimers Disease Center
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1. Recent Memory Loss That Affects Job Skills

It's normal to occasionally forget assignments, colleagues' names, or a business associate's telephone number, and remember them later. Those with a dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, forget things more often and often fail to remember them even when reminded.

2. Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks

Busy people can be so distracted from time to time that they may leave the carrots on the stove and only remember to serve them at the end of the meal. People with Alzheimer's disease may have difficulty going through the proper steps to prepare the carrots.

3. Problems With Language

Everyone has trouble finding the right words sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's disease may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making their sentences difficult to understand.

4. Disorientation of Time and Place

It's normal to occasionally forget the day of the week or how to get where you are going. However, people with Alzheimer's disease may become lost in familiar surrounding, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get back home.

5. Poor or Decreased Judgment

People can become so immersed in an activity that they temporarily forget about something else that they are supposed to be doing at the same time, such as watching a child. People with Alzheimer's disease may entirely forget about the child under their care. They may also dress inappropriately for the weather or put on several shirts or blouses.

6. Problems With Abstract Thinking

Balancing a checkbook may be disconcerting when the task is more complicated than usual. Someone with Alzheimer's disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.

7. Misplacing Things

Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or keys. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in inappropriate places: the ice cream in a kitchen cabinet or the milk in the freezer.

8. Changes in Mood and Behavior

Everyone becomes sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer's disease can exhibit rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger, for no apparent reason.

9. Changes in Personality

People's personalities may change slightly with age. But a person with Alzheimer's disease can change drastically, becoming extremely confused, suspicious, or fearful.

10. Loss of Initiative

It's normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people regain their initiative. The person with Alzheimer's disease may become increasingly passive about or unwilling to engage in their usual pursuits, perhaps sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual, or resisting the urging of family and friends to join in activities they previously enjoyed.

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