Dementia, has become a very familiar term to many families. Our community has become more aware and more in tune to this disease. But we all still have a lot of work to do. Even though I am no longer working with the Department of Aging I will continue to educate, assist and share resources with families that are living with dementia. As a Certified Independent Positive Approach to Care Trainer I will strive to help as many people as I can that are on this dementia journey. This disease affects everybody, from the families to the friends, to those in public service and so on. The person lives with it on the inside and the family lives with it on the outside. There is still no cure, so we have the thought of “until there is a cure, there is care”, care that is exhausting and stressful. I would like to share ten warning signs with you. These ten signs are given by the Alzheimer’s Association.
1. 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, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (such as reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own. (What’s typical age-related change? Sometime forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.)
2. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things that they did before. (What’s typical age-related change? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.)
3. People living with Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game. (What’s typical age-related change? Occasionally needing help to use the setting on a microwave or to record a television show.)
4. People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometime they may forget where they are or how they got there. (What’s a typical age-related change? Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out.)
5. For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. (What’s a typical age-related change? Vision changes related to cataracts.)
6. People living with Alzheimer’s disease may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (such as calling a watch, a hand clock). (What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.)
7. A person living with Alzheimer’s 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. (What’s a typical age-related change? Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.)
8. People living Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgement or decision making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. (What’s a typical age-related change? Making a bad decision once in a while.)
9. A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced. (What’s a typical age-related change? Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.)
10. The mood and personalities of people living with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. (What’s a typical age-related change? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.)
The above 10 warning signs were given by the Alzheimer’s Association. You can contact them for support, resources and many other helps in regards to all conditions of dementia. You can go online to alz.org/10signs or call 1-800-272-3900. You can also can visit alz.org/education to access online workshops. It is vital that you keep on top of information. Remember “Knowledge is Power”. Hope you have a “Best Day Ever”!
Lesia Henderson is certified independent Positive Approach to Care trainer.