Is it a normal part of aging or are your symptoms something more?
Here are the 10 warning signs and symptoms, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, that you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Memory loss is probably the most known symptom of dementia. Everyone has forgotten a name or appointment, and then remembered it later. This is not cause for concern. If you are forgetting recently learned information, asking the same questions over and over, or relying on family members or notes for things you used to handle, this would be a good time to contact your doctor.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. If it has become difficult for you to work with numbers, follow a recipe that you have made for years or to keep track of monthly bills, this could be a sign of dementia.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. People with dementia often find it hard to complete daily tasks such as driving to a familiar location, remembering the rules of a favorite game or organizing a shopping list.
4. Confusion with time or place. Sometimes we forget what day it is but remember after thinking on it. If you have a hard time knowing the date, time, or year, this may be cause for concern.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and special relationships. It is expected that most of us will have changes in our vision as we get older. It is concerning when this leads to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. You may have problems judging distance or determining color or contrast, which is especially dangerous while driving.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. You may find yourself stopping in the middle of a conversation and not know how to continue or you may have trouble finding the words for familiar objects.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Misplacing items is something we all do, but most of us can retrace our steps and find the items in a reasonable spot. It is when items are placed in unusual places (your eyeglasses in the freezer) or you can’t retrace your steps that one might become concerned.
8. Decreased or poor judgement. One may make poor money choices (giving large amounts of money to new charities you haven’t supported in the past) or pay less attention to personal grooming such as brushing your hair or teeth.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Because those with dementia may find it difficult to follow a conversation, you may withdraw from social engagement or hobbies that you have always enjoyed taking part in.
10. Changes in mood or personality. You may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. You may be easily upset when outside your comfort zone.
For more resources on dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website or call their 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.
For information about how to start a conversation about dementia, visit www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/memory-loss-concerns.
Cat McGaffigan, Director of Independent Living & Supportive Services
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