People of all ages will find times when they can’t remember a name or some other trivial information when they want to. They’ll jokingly call it a “senior moment” when this happens but what are the signs of early Dementia? Having Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the biggest fears people have about aging but there is growing evidence that the process can be slowed or even prevented with a proactive approach and some modern medicine. Why does one sibling get Alzheimer’s and another does not? Is it all genetic or are there environmental factors that contribute to its onset? An article on the Alzheimer’s Association website has some information bout the early warning signs. The earlier a person can be diagnosed the more proactive they can be with their treatment.
1) Does the memory loss disrupt your daily routine?
Short term memory is effected, you can’t remember things you just learned then you can’t remember the name of a long time friend. If you are forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on your own you may be in the beginning stages of memory impairment.
2) Do you misplace things and are losing the ability to retrace your 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. This may occur more frequently over time and gets increasingly frustrating for the person and their family. Increased frustration and anger are also early indicators.
3) Do you have decreased or poor judgment?
This is an especially tragic phase as this is when predators can do a great deal of damage by targeting the elderly for scams that can cost them and their families everything. The website agingcare.com featured a story titled “Can Elderly Scams be Prevented”? If you are experiencing changes in judgment or decision-making, for example, using poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers or fringe spiritual groups and untested charities, it is time to get help. If you feel you are getting to this stage it is advisable to give a trusted family member power of attorney to protect yourself and your assets before the disease gets too far along.
4) Are you getting more withdrawal from work or social activities?
Are you starting to remove yourself from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports? Do you have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby? Are you avoiding social activities because you are embarrassed by the memory changes you are experiencing?
5) Are you having changes in your mood or personality?
Have you become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious? Are you easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where you feel out of your comfort zone?
Having any of these symptoms is cause to get an evaluation by a trusted doctor, preferably one who specializes in the field. Cognitive decline is frightening but there are more studies being done about ways to slow the process or prevent it all together. Get information. As the saying goes information is power and power over your own life is an end goal.
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