If any of you have heard me give my lecture on “Understanding Alzheimer’s” you’ve heard me refer to it as the “snowflake” of illnesses because no two individuals with Alzheimer’s are the same. If you know someone with Alzheimer’s then you know one person with Alzheimer’s and you need to understand that you can’t “paint them all with the same brush.” With that said, I’m going to share the Top 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s with you today and it’s important that you understand that, more than likely, your afflicted loved one will not display all 10 signs. As you read these remember that early detection matters.
1. Memory that disrupts daily life. Memory loss is the one common denominator that all those that suffer from Alzheimer’s display. Remember that there is a big difference between forgetting an appointment and remembering it later and not remembering you had the appointment at all.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Are they having problems following a recipe or have they made a mess of the bills and the checkbook? An occasional goof in the checkbook is fine but you’ll recognize the difference when you see it.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Are they forgetting the way to a friends house they’ve been going to for years? Perhaps they’re forgetting the rules to a game they’ve played for years.
4. Confusion with time or place. You may notice that they are not aware of the passing of time or lose track of the season they are in. They may also lose track of where they are and how they got there.
5. Trouble understanding visual images. They may have trouble reading, determining color or contrast and they may pass a mirror and not recognize the person looking back at them.
6. Problems with words, speaking and writing. They will have trouble following a conversation, finding the right words in a conversation (“party people” instead of newlyweds) or you may find they are avoiding social situations all together.
7. Misplacing things. Are you finding things in unusual places like the t.v. remote in the vegetable bin? Are they hiding things so well that they don’t remember they hid them? They may also be blaming you or someone else of taking them. Don’t get angry, remember, it’s the disease.
8. Displaying poor judgment. Refusing to leave the house to see a Doctor, compromising their hygiene, giving away money to telemarketers or wearing the same clothes day after day. Remember their brain has lost or is losing its boss.
9. Withdrawal from social activities. They can no longer follow their favorite sporting event, they can’t figure out a menu, they have trouble working on their favorite hobby and they have trouble communicating.
10. Changes in mood and personality. This is when you’ll notice confusion, suspicion, anxiety, depression and even fear. Taking them out of their comfort zone is not going to go well because they want and need to feel safe.
It goes without saying that I could write an entire article on each of these warning signs and in some cases I have. If you would like to have a copy of them please visit my web sight at www.careforcaregivers.org or you can visit the Alzheimer’s Association web sight at Alz.org/10signs.
One final reminder that, if and when you notice some of these signs in your loved one, make sure you’re seeing the right physician and make sure that you’re providing them as much information as possible about you loved ones behaviors and the changes you are seeing.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer them directly or in a future article. And remember to always Join the Journey.