Like Dr. Mehmet Oz, who recently learned that his mother, Suna Oz, has Alzheimer’s, it is easy to miss the early warning signs of the disease.
The host of The Dr. Oz Show, 59, told PEOPLE he is “frustrated and mad” at himself for not recognizing that his 81-year-old mother’s health was failing, not putting signs together that she was struggling to find her words or dressing irregularly.
However, there are warning signs and symptoms that you can look out for so that the disease does not sneak up on you like a “snake in the grass,” as Oz put it, and you can get to a doctor earlier.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills,” and any symptoms of the disease should not be ignored.
Notify your doctor and make an appointment if you come across any of the the following warning signs:
The person is constantly forgetting dates and events and relies on others for things they once did on their own. One of the most common signs, the association reports, is forgetting information that you’ve recently learned. Repeating the same information over and over is another sign.
Trouble following a plan
The disease makes it difficult to develop or follow a plan, especially something that is familiar such as a following a familiar recipe or staying on top of their bills. These tasks might take much longer than they have in the past.
Daily tasks are hard
What used to be easy and familiar, like driving to a familiar location or remembering rules of a game, now seem to be more and more difficult.
The person gets confused with common known facts, like the date or season. Understanding how much time has passed or quickly forgetting where they are is common as well.
Not every warning sign has to do with memory. People with Alzheimer’s sometimes acquire vision problems, which can cause difficulty reading or staying balanced. This can cause a problem with driving too as their spacial awareness can be compromised.
Loss for words
It may be hard for the person to continue a conversation or remember what they’ve already said. Forgetting familiar words becomes more common.
Things are not where they belong
Since people living with Alzheimer’s are forgetful, they may put things away in strange places and later forget where they are. They are unable to retrace their steps to figure out where they put something.
They are making poor choices, commonly when dealing with finances or self-care.
They might drop out of daily social activities or other events because they cannot hold or follow the conversations, making it hard to keep up.
Mood and personality changes
A person with the disease might go through several mood and personality changes. Whether at home, or out with others, they can become easily depressed or anxious.
While these warning signs seem easy to look out for, sometimes it can hard to see the difference between Alzheimer’s and typical-age related changes. However, if you notice these signs in yourself or others, do not keep quiet about it.
“With early detection, you can explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and help you maintain a level of independence longer, as well as increase your chances of participating in clinical drug trials that help advance research,” the association explains.
For more information on the disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.
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