How do you know if your forgetfulness is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease or normal aging?
The first thing we should do is make sure we understand what Alzheimer’s is and what that means to us.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that causes a slow decline in your memory, thinking and reasoning. It is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is characterized by symptoms of forgetfulness, memory loss and reduced ability to concentrate. In the later stages, you might have anxiety, delusions, loss of speech and be unable to sit up or walk. Ultimately, your body will slowly shut down.
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 564, 000 Canadians are currently living with Dementia. While there is no known cure, studies have been conducted that indicate there may be ways of preventing or at least slowing down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, just because you are forgetting the occasional name, having trouble remembering the right word to use, maybe walking into another room, and forgetting what you were looking for doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these signs could just be a natural part of aging. Sometimes it means that you were distracted with other thoughts.
If you suspect you, or someone you know might have Alzheimer’s disease, here are some signs you should look out for.
- Memory Loss: Forgetting things like appointments, names and phone numbers occasionally is normal. Struggling to retain new information can be a warning sign.
- Communication Problems: Having trouble finding the right word is not unusual. If you are suffering with Alzheimer’s, you might replace simple words with unusual ones or maybe a strange description. A camera might become “that box that makes pictures”.
- Problems with Everyday Tasks: Forgetting how to do something you’ve done your whole life, like preparing a meal or getting dressed.
- Misplacing Things: This is like putting your keys under the couch cushion or your clothes in the dishwasher.
- Disorientation: If you have Alzheimer’s you can get lost on your own street. You either don’t remember where you are going or how to get home.
- Impaired Judgement: This could be as simple as wearing a warm jacket on a hot day or poor judgement with money like spending big amounts with telemarketers or buying products that are not needed.
- Trouble with Complex Tasks: Having trouble with tasks that require abstract thinking like balancing a checkbook or playing a favorite game can be difficult.
- Mood Swings and Behavior Changes: You could be happy and cheerful one minute, then suddenly become extremely angry over something that is trivial or imagined.
- Changes in Personality: Behaving out of character like feeling paranoid or threatened.
- Loss of Initiative: Yes, we all get tired of doing housework but someone suffering from Alzheimer’s may become very passive losing interest in friends, family and favorite activities.
I’m sure more of us worry about having Alzheimer’s, than those of us who actually get the disease. If you are concerned about these symptoms, then maybe you should go to a specialist and get checked out.