Just as each person is different, so are the first signs of Alzheimer's disease.
While memory loss is often most associated with the disease, common initial signs frequently begin with a decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition.
These nonmemory indicators include impaired reasoning or judgment, vision/spatial issues, and vocabulary/word choice difficulty. Any of these initial signs may indicate the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Challenges with one's memory may be the first sign of the cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's. In some cases, people exhibiting memory problems have only had a condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
MCI is a condition where people may have a higher level of memory problems for their age group. While these people's symptoms do not interfere with their daily lives, they can develop problems with their sense of smell and general physical movement.
The older someone develops MCI, the more at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. It's important to note that not all people with MCI develop Alzheimer's.
There is extensive research ongoing to study the biomarkers from brain images, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood. The hope is that biomarkers from the brain will help detect early changes in people with MCI as well as people who may be at a greater risk for Alzheimer's.
Biomarkers can help doctors and scientists diagnose diseases and health conditions, find health risks in a person, monitor responses to treatment, and see how a person's disease or health condition changes over time. Biomarkers are measures of what is happening inside the body, and they are the results of laboratory and imaging tests.