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Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Some change in memory is normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are more than simple lapses in memory.
People with Alzheimer's experience difficulties communicating, learning, thinking and reasoning problems severe enough to have an impact on an individual's work, social activities and family life.
The Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklist of common symptoms to help you recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and possible warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.
There's no clear-cut line between normal changes and warning signs. It's always a good idea to check with a doctor if a person's level of function seems to be changing. The Alzheimer's Association believes that it is critical for people diagnosed with dementia and their families to receive information, care and support as early as possible.
10 warning signs of Alzheimer's:
- Memory loss. Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.
What's normal? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.
What's normal? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.
- Problems with language. People with Alzheimer's disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for "that thing for my mouth."
What's normal? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
- Disorientation to time and place. People with Alzheimer's disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
What's normal? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.
- Poor or decreased judgment. Those with Alzheimer's may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.
What's normal? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.
- Problems with abstract thinking. Someone with Alzheimer's disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.
What's normal? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.
- Misplacing things. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
What's normal? Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.
- Changes in mood or behavior. Someone with Alzheimer's disease may show rapid mood swings from calm to tears to anger for no apparent reason.
What's normal? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.
- Changes in personality. The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
What's normal? People's personalities do change somewhat with age.
- Loss of initiative. A person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.
What's normal? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.
Has no current cure. But treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer's. We've learned most of what we know about Alzheimer's in the last 15 years. There is an accelerating worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, or prevent it from developing.
Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age. Most of us notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work are not a normal part of aging. They may be a sign that brain cells are failing.
In Alzheimer's disease, parts of the cell's factory stop running well. Scientists are not sure exactly where the trouble starts. But just like a real factory, backups and breakdowns in one system cause problems in other areas. As damage spreads, cells lose their ability to do their jobs well.
For additional information, contact the ReDCo Group Evergreen Senior Services at (570) 773-3093 in Mahanoy City or (570) 345-3508 in Pine Grove.