It's normal to occasionally forget an assignment, deadline or friend's name, but frequent forgetfulness or unexplainable confusion may signal problems.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Busy people frequently get distracted. For example, you might leave something on the stove too long or not remember to serve part of a meal. People with Alzheimer's might prepare a meal and not only forget to serve it, but forget they made it.
Problems with language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer's may forget simple words or substitute inappropriate words, making the sentences difficult to understand.
Disorientation of time and place
It's normal to momentarily forget the day of the week. People with Alzheimer's disease can become lost on their own street, not knowing where they are, how they got there or how to get home.
Poor or decreased judgment
Choosing not to bring a sweater or coat along on a chilly night is a common mistake. A person with Alzheimer's may dress inappropriately in more noticeable ways, wearing a bathrobe to the store or several blouses on a hot day.
Problems with abstract thinking
Balancing a checkbook can be challenging for many people, but for someone with Alzheimer's, recognizing numbers or performing basic calculation may be impossible.
Everyone temporarily misplaces a wallet or keys from time to time. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put items in inappropriate places such as an iron in the freezer, or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl, then not recall how they got there.
Changes in mood or behavior
Everyone experiences a broad range of emotions, it's part of being human. People with Alzheimer's tend to exhibit more rapid mood swings for no apparent reason.
Changes in personality
People's personalities may change somewhat as they age. But a person with Alzheimer's can change dramatically, either suddenly or over a period of time. Someone who is generally easy going may become angry, suspicious or fearful.
Loss of initiative
It's normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations, but most people retain or eventually regain their interest. The person with Alzheimer's disease may remain disinterested and uninvolved in many or all her usual pursuits.