(BPT) - Misplacing your car keys, drawing a blank on someone’s name or repeating information you’ve already shared – everyone experiences some occasional forgetfulness, and it can happen at any age. But when forgetfulness becomes a recurring problem for someone who has never before experienced it – or when it occurs with other signs – it may be a symptom of early Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer's disease are 65 and older.

Recognizing the potential signs

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s may help patients manage their disease.   Researchers are focusing on new ways to diagnose and treat the disease as early as possible. While some memory loss may be a normal part of aging, if a person experiences more memory problems than you would expect, it could indicate a more serious issue.

Signs that forgetfulness may be more serious include the following:

* Forgetting important dates – that you used to remember

* Struggling to develop and follow a plan or working with numbers, such as trouble staying on top of monthly bills

* Having trouble completing daily tasks at home or work

* Losing track of time, such as forgetting where you are and how you got there

* Problems with vision, which can affect reading, driving and other activities

* Having trouble remembering conversations or repeating questions or stories without realizing you’re doing so

* Difficulty recalling recent, small events such as where you put your keys

* A lack of hygiene, for example, beginning to wear stained clothing or neglecting to bathe

* Beginning to lose interest in work projects, hobbies or social activities

* Experiencing sudden mood swings, such as becoming depressed or upset for no reason

Learning about clinical trials

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but drug and non-drug treatments may help with both mental and behavioral symptoms. Researchers are looking for new treatments to help alter the course of the disease. Talk to your doctor if you or a loved one might be experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s. Your doctor may be aware of a clinical trial in which you may qualify to participate.

The APECS Study sponsored by Merck, is a clinical research study evaluating an oral investigational medication for Prodromal Alzheimer’s disease, which is the very early stage of the disease when minor symptoms first appear. A person in this early stage may have more memory problems than normal for their age, but are still able to carry out most daily activities.

APECS Study participants:

* Will be screened to find out if their forgetfulness qualifies them to be in the study

* Will have all study-related medications and medical tests provided at no cost

* Will have study related monitoring throughout the study

* May be compensated for time and travel

* Will help advance medical research for Alzheimer’s disease

To participate, you or a loved one must be between 50 and 85 years old, have had memory problems for at least one year, and have someone in your life that can attend study visits with you

and help you follow study requirements. Sites across the country will be enrolling participants. Visit www.MemoryResearchStudy.com to learn about additional study requirements as well as possible risks of participation and to see if you or a loved one may qualify.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, visit the association’s website at www.alz.org. For more information on the APECS Study visit www.MemoryResearchStudy.com or call 1-844-709-0909.