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Alzheimer’s: 10 warning signs

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects parts of the brain that control memory, thought and language. 

It is the most common type of dementia. This disease progresses over time and causes memory loss. It can also lead to a reduced ability to carry out daily tasks. Affected individuals often find it hard to carry on conversations. They may stop mid-sentence to remember a word or chain of event.


Hair barrette with Cree pattern

Did you know?

There is some evidence that suggests age-related dementias have only recently become more common in Indigenous populations. As people live longer, they are more likely to experience dementia. Just as Indigenous communities in Canada are different, Indigenous peoples, communities and cultures hold different understandings of dementia, memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion related to aging. These understandings may be very different from those held by doctors, nurses and support workers. 

Some common descriptions of dementia are that:  

• “It’s normal”  

• “It’s natural”  

• “It’s part of the circle of life” or “coming full circle”  

Dementia may also be described as a “second childhood” and a time when one is “closer to the Creator.” A person’s spiritual beliefs often influence how dementia is viewed.  

10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s


1 - Memory loss affecting day-to-day abilities

Woman looking at mitten
Forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information.



2 - Difficulty performing familiar tasks

Man getting confused while cooking eggs
Forgetting how to do something —like preparing a meal or getting dressed.



3 - Problems with language

Woman looking at photo and not recognizing miichuuap
Forgetting words or using them in the wrong context or situation.



4 - Disorientation in time and space

Man standing at intersection and now knowing where he is
Not knowing the time of day or getting lost in a familiar place.



5 - Impaired judgement

Woman standing in snow and not wearing proper clothes for cold weather
Unaware of a safety hazard or wearing light clothing on a cold day.



6 - Problems with abstract thinking (reasoning)

Man standing at store checkout and having problems counting numbers
Difficulty with numbers and how to use them.



7 - Misplacing things

Woman opening cupboard door and finding mitten on shelf.
Putting things in strange places —clothes in the kitchen cabinet or a pen in the sugar bowl.



8 - Changes in mood and behaviour

Man holding his hands over his ears and going through different emotions
Severe mood swings—from easy-going to quick-tempered.



9 - Changes in personality

Young woman interacting with older woman
Acting out of character—becoming confused, suspicious or fearful.



10 - Loss of initiative

Man sitting at kitchen table with hand on his chin, thinking
Losing interest in friends, family and favourite activities.



How can I get help?

  • Connect with a doctor or a nurse you trust.  
  • Set up regular appointments with your health care providers to check in on the dementia and any new care needs that arise – for example, you may need more home care or medical equipment in your home 
  • Formal medical care is not the only way to deal with dementia. Other techniques Indigenous people use include prayer, ceremony, church, meditation, yoga, visiting with youth, art-therapy, story-telling, speaking the language and humour 



Maanuuhiikuu provides community members with free and confidential clinical and traditional options to choose from, on their paths to wellness.

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