Ask Joan: Understanding the warning signs of Alzheimer’s
June 3, 2024

Q. My father is 79 and is generally in good health. However, I’ve noticed he is sometimes forgetful and doesn’t always remember where things are around the house. Just last week, he was confused about what day it was. I don’t want to assume something more serious is happening, but I’m not sure what to do.

A. All of us – regardless of age – are sometimes forgetful and have trouble remembering things. However, memory loss may be symptom of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

Joan Hatem-Roy, CEO of AgeSpan

Alzheimer’s disease causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. I would urge you to talk to your father and together discuss the issue with his health-care provider. In the meantime, it’s helpful to understand the disease’s warning signs and symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association says here is what to look for:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. This may be forgetting how to drive to a familiar place or do other daily activities.

4. Confusion with time or place, such as losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time or understanding something if it is not happening immediately.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. This may include vision changes or having trouble with balance, reading, or judging distance.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. A person may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or repeat themselves.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.

8. Decreased or poor judgment. For example, someone may make bad decisions when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming and keeping themselves clean.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Someone may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation and start to withdraw from their regular interests or hobbies.

10. Changes in mood and personality. A person may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.

Schedule an appointment with a doctor if you notice any of those warning signs. Early detection is key to finding treatment. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. For more resources, go to:  Good luck to you and your father.

Are you caring for an older adult or need help finding healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at You can also call 800-892-0890 or email

Joan Hatem-Roy is the chief executive officer of AgeSpan, which serves the following cities and towns: Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Boxford, Chelmsford, Danvers, Dracut, Dunstable, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Marblehead, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Peabody, Rowley, Salisbury, Salem, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford, and West Newbury.

First published in the Eagle-Tribune.

Resize text-+=