Dear Donna:

I have an elderly neighbor that we’ve lived next to for over twenty years. She doesn’t have any family left and seems to have outlived most of her friends. My children think of her as a bonus grandmother, and we are all very attached to her.

My husband and I have noticed changes in her over the last year or so. She’s a little forgetful and seems to be misplacing things a lot. While I know these are small changes, I’m concerned they might be signs of a bigger problem. I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease many years ago, and I’m worried this might be the issue with my neighbor.

Are these early signs of Alzheimer’s disease? I’m trying to decide if I should convince her to let me bring her to a doctor. It might be a tough topic to tackle with her, so I’m not sure how to proceed.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Rory in Williamsburg, MI

Is It Alzheimer’s Disease?

Dear Rory:

We all misplace things from time to time. The car keys. Our favorite pair of shoes. The television remote. It’s usually not anything to worry about. When memory loss begins to impact daily life, however, it can be a sign of something more serious.

While many people associate Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss and forgetfulness, other symptoms of the disease aren’t as well known.

  • Mismanaging finances: This common early warning sign is often missed. Someone with undiagnosed Alzheimer’s may pay one bill multiple times while neglecting to pay others. The disease also puts a senior at increased risk for scams and identity theft.
  • Difficulty communicating: Another change early Alzheimer’s can cause is difficulty communicating. A loss of verbal skills or problems with written communication are two examples. Seniors might also call objects by the wrong name or have problems maintaining a conversation.
  • Loss of abstract thought: Another red flag is when a senior begins struggling with routine multi-step tasks or errands that require abstract thought. These include writing out checks, creating a grocery list, or preparing meals.
  • Change in disposition: A sudden change in personality is another sign to take seriously. For example, a gregarious senior becoming ill-tempered or suspicious. They may be struggling with a difficult personal issue, but it can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
  • Withdrawing from friends: When someone first suspects they have a problem, it might be hard to admit. Embarrassment or the fear of being “discovered” can cause them to isolate from friends. They may even stop attending religious services and withdraw from favorite hobbies.
  • Getting lost: An older driver who has Alzheimer’s disease might get lost going to or from familiar places. If you notice that your next-door neighbor’s errands seem to be taking longer than they should or if she seems flustered after an outing, you might want to have a gentle discussion about it.

I hope this information is helpful to you, Rory! Please call the Heritage community nearest you if you have any questions!

Kind regards,


Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities

Finding care for a loved one with a memory impairment requires thoughtful research and planning. If your search for dementia care includes Michigan, we encourage you to consider Heritage Senior Communities. From specialty caregivers to unique meals, The Terrace memory care is designed to help older adults live their best quality of life despite their disease.

Call the Heritage dementia care community nearest you to schedule a private tour today!