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Five warning signs of Alzheimer's revealed

October 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Most of us know at least one person who's living with Alzheimer's. In all, more than five million Americans have it, and doctors diagnose a new case every 70 seconds. Could you or someone you know be next? Experts reveal the five warning signs of Alzheimer's and how to put your memory to the test.How good is your memory? Are you showing signs of Alzheimer's?

"Every time I forget someone's name, or if I change rooms and I forget where I was going, I'm terrified for an instant that I have Alzheimer's," said Shannon Seitz.

Seitz watched her mother fall victim to Alzheimer's. Now she's worried about losing her mind.

"That's very frightening," said Seitz.

Here are five red flags to watch out for.

First, do you ask the same question over and over again?

"If you are worried about it and other people are commenting about it that might be a time to check with your doctor," said geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Gary Small.

Do you put things in unusual places?

"If you're forgetting everyday things that you really should remember," said Dr. Small.

Do you struggle remembering the words you want to say?

Warning sign number four, genetics. The National Institutes of Health report you have a 40 to 60 percent increased risk of Alzheimer's if your parents have it.

Lastly if you suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol - you have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. All of these affect blood supply and reduce oxygenation to the brain.

"Don't overeat. If you're carrying around too much weight, you're at increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and weight related illnesses that can affect your memory," said Dr. Small.

Dr. Small says there are ways that we can reduce the effects of memory loss. He distills the basics of these down to three concepts: "look, snap, connect."

It means focus, create a mental picture, then connect the pictures together. If you've got trouble with this, you may need to start sharpening your mind, in order to save your memory.