(ABC4) – Alzheimer’s Disease warnings often become more noticeable during the holidays.

As families gather, it isn’t surprising that this is the time when family members are most likely to recognize the first signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia in a loved one. The Alzheimer’s Association’s helpline sees its highest volume of calls at the end of each year.

This may be because changes in memory or behavior that seem gradual to those in daily contact can appear more noticeable to out-of-town visitors or simply those who are not in daily contact. 

The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a checklist of 10 signs to be aware of in early detection. Early detection is important because aside from considerations of personal safety, too much time may pass before necessary lifestyle changes are made and all medical care options are explored. 

Here are the 10 signs outlined by the Alzheimer’s Association:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. As it may be typical with aging to occasionally forget names or even appointments, the increasing need to rely on others for things previously handled on their own is a sign.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. If a person experiences changes in the ability to follow a plan, work with numbers, or difficulty concentrating, it may be a concern.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget, or remembering the rules of a familiar game. 
  4. Confusion with time or place. Losing track of dates, seasons, or the passage of time is another indication. Often, people with Alzheimer’s may forget where they are or how they got there. 
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance, or determining color or contrast. Problems with driving will be a clear indication of these issues.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. They may put things in unusual places and be unable to find them, perhaps even accuse others of stealing. 
  8. Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s may use poor judgment when dealing with money. One example might be giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may also pay less attention to grooming and personal cleanliness.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Some people may avoid being social due to the changes they’re experiencing and remove themselves from work projects, hobbies, and social functions. 
  10. Changes in mood and personality. Increased incidents of confusion, suspicion, depression, fear, or anxiety can be a sign. They may become more easily upset, especially when out of their comfort zone. 

If you or someone you care about is experiencing any of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 or go to www.alz.org.