Published on: December 14, 2012
by Camarillo Acorn:
This holiday season become educated about the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a condition that robs people of their memory and thinking skills and is ultimately fatal.
Visiting with relatives over the holidays may raise questions about the physical and cognitive health of family members. Although some change in cognitive ability can occur with age, serious memory problems are not a part of normal aging. Recognizing the difference between normal aging and more serious problems can help identify when it may be time for a relative to see a doctor.
The Alzheimer’s Association has seen a rise in calls to its 24-hour helpline—(800) 272- 3900—during and after the holiday season when people return home and visit with friends and family whom they may not see frequently during the year. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages anyone who has a question or a doubt about the state of an aging family member or friend to call its helpline.
Every individual may experience one or more of the 10 warning signs in different degrees. See a doctor if any of the following signs are noticed.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Also common is forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, and relying on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on one’s own.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
4. Confusion with time or place. People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer’s 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 (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing.
8. Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
10. Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support services.
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