by Kevin K. Johnson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and also National Caregiver Month. In the United States, there are more than 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers. I’ve posted a number of blogs on this subject over the past few years regarding dementia and specifically Alzheimer’s, the most frequently diagnosed type of dementia. You can perform a ‘search’ of this site and find perhaps five or six topic related postings. Often from personal experience, we know how bad Alzheimer’s disease is for the individual that suffers from it and from the perspective of the caregivers involved in patient care. But do you know what the early symptoms are? With the arrival of baby boomers to retirement age, there is increasing investments in Alzheimer’s research for a cure. There are more and more medicines making their way to the market that slow the progression of the disease. Early detection is becoming more important to the successfully managing Alzheimer’s dementia. Keep these 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s in mind.
- Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life — One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, observe whether an individual is repeatedly asking for the same information.
- Challenges in Planning of Solving Problems — You may observe that an individual is having difficulty concentrating and may take much longer to do things than they did in the past.
- Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks at Home, at Work, or at Leisure — Suddenly, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, or remembering rules to a familiar process or even a game.
- Confusion with Time or Place — An individual may forget where they are or how they got there.
- Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships — For some, reading, judging distances, or color contrast may become prevalent.
- New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing — An individual may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name.
- Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps — Look for a pattern of placing things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find the again. They may also accuse others of stealing.
- Decreased or Poor Judgment — Look for negative changes in grooming or keeping themselves clean. You may also see changes or just poor judgment when dealing with money and with sales people either over the phone or face-to-face.
- Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities — They understand that something is changing and may begin to avoid being social. They may start to pull back from hobbies, or social activities.
- Changes in Mood and Personality — They may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
Now make sure to compare and contrast the Alzheimer’s Dementia early warning signs above with the following signs that most of us experience. These signs are simply typical of age-related changes.
- Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
- Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
- Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
- Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
- Vision changes related to cataracts.
- Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
- Misplacing things from time-to-time and retracing steps to find them.
- Making a bad decision once in a while.
- Sometime feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
- Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
Source: Alzheimer’s Organization, www.alz.org
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