Dementia, Notes to Remember

By Lesia R. Henderson - Contributing columnist
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A couple weeks ago I attended the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry Conference in Thomasville. They had a representative for the Alzheimer’s Association and she provided information in regards to the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. I would like to share these warnings signs with you.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association these 10 things are signs to look for:

• Changes in mood and personality. You may notice your loved one becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. Be aware of these changes, and take note. Your loved one may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. Please be reminded that mood changes with age may also be a sign of another condition. Consult your health care provider if you observe changes in yourself or others.

• Withdrawal form work or social activities. You may notice that your loved one will start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. A person may avoid being social because of the changes they have been experiencing. They themselves notice something is different but just cannot put their finger on it. This initiates withdrawal.

• Decreased or poor judgment. You may notice your loved one use poor judgment, for example, when dealing with money, they may be giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

• Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. You may notice that your loved one is putting 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.

• New problems with words in speaking or writing. You may notice that your loved one may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name.

• Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Your loved one may have problems with vision, they may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. This may cause problems while driving.

• Confusion with time and place. You may notice your loved one losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

• Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. You may notice your loved one often finding it hard to complete daily tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

• Challenges in planning or solving problems. Your loved one may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. You may notice they are having problems with following familiar recipes or keeping track of monthly bills.

• Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over.

These 10 warning signs were provided by the Alzheimer’s Association and can be found on the website alz.org/10signs and you can visit alz.org/education to access online workshops. You can also call them at 1-800-272-3900. This is their 24/7 helpline, available all day, every day. Early detection matters, so be aware of these signs and I encourage you to consult your health care provider.

Let me give you some peace of mind, about typical age-related changes; as we age we will make bad decisions once in a while, we will miss making a monthly payment once in a while, we will forget what day it is and remember later, sometimes we will forget what word to use and we will lose things from time to time. When it becomes excessive, that would be the time you should consult your health care provider.

So, step back and take three deep breaths, practice often taking three deep breaths. Tap into the shared resources. Remember this is “Older Americans Month”, so tell a senior citizen how much you appreciate them. Hope you have a “Best Day Ever!”

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The warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

By Lesia R. Henderson

Contributing columnist

Lesia Henderson is an aging specialist with the Sampson County Department of Aging.

Lesia Henderson is an aging specialist with the Sampson County Department of Aging.