There are 10 warning signs the Alzheimer's Association put together to watch for. If you see these signs, some of them, a few of them, don't immediately self diagnose. You are (ok, probably) not a doctor!! Leave the diagnosis to the professionals, but take your loved one to a doctor for that professional diagnosis. Early detection matters. What are the 10 warning signs?
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life. (Like forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over, relying on family members for things they used to handle on their own.)
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. (Like trouble following a familiar recipe, keeping up with medications or keeping track of monthly bills. May have trouble and take longer to do things that they did before.)
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure. (For example, finding it hard to complete daily tasks like shopping, cooking, personal grooming or driving.)
- Confusion with time or place. (Like losing track of dates, seasons and passage of time. They may forget where they are or even how they got there. May get lost while driving.)
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. (Like more difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. Dementia affects more than just the memory, you know.)
- New problems with words in speaking and writing. (Like calling things by the wrong name or struggling with vocabulary or following a conversation. They may repeat themselves...repeatedly.)
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. (Like putting things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. They may even accuse others of stealing.) May put things in "odd" places.
- Decreased or poor judgment. (Like unusually poor judgment in dealing with money, less able to choose clothing appropriate to the weather or season.)
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. (Like choosing to isolate themselves because it is easier than being confused by what is going on around them.)
- Changes in mood and personality. Our family discovered that our loved one was confused about what was happening to him. He knew something was wrong or different but not what. His personality changed because to him, he was no different, but he thought we were treating HIM differently. He couldn't see the changes in himself. He didn't always know who we were, or where he was but in his mind, he was fine and we were the ones acting strange. No wonder his mood changed!
If you see these signs, talk about it! Unfortunately, there is so much shame associated with this disease, often people don't get the help they need - help that can prolong the effects - until it is too late.
See a doctor. Get the right treatment as soon as possible! Maybe the problem isn't dementia at all, maybe it's another illness or even a medication issue that is causing the issues. We can break the stigma, together. Let's talk about it. For more specific information regarding dementia check out www.alz.org.