Know the 10 Warning Signs
Do you know the 10 warning signs of Alzheimers?
Are you questioning if your elderly loved one is showing the beginning stages of Alzheimer's?
Are you not sure if what you are seeing is actually Alzheimer's?
Are you looking for the signs of Alzheimers?
The Alzheimer's Association has provided a list of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimers that is widely accepted in the medical community.
If your loved one is experiencing ANY of these signs of Alzheimers, it is now time to contact your primary care provider for a referral to a Alzheimer's specialist. Early diagnosis and treatment is vital.
Beginning treatment early is critical. The sooner you can start treatment, the more likely you are to have a successful response to the Alzheimer's medications that are currently available.
Memory loss, but most often, short term memory loss, is one of the earliest signs of Alzheimers. Short term memory loss refers to forgetting recently learned information, such as names or activities done in the past few days.
Occasionally we all forget someone's name or what we did yesterday but can pull up that information later.
Alzheimer's related short term memory loss is when the information is not able to be retrieved at a later date.
Difficulty with Problem Solving and Planning
A good example of problem solving and planning is paying monthly bills. If your elderly loved one, who has previous been very meticulous about paying bills on time, suddenly forgets or consistently makes calculation errors, it could be one of the 10 warning signs of Alzheimers Disease.
We all make occasional errors and that should not be cause for concern unless you are consistently seeing errors in planning.
Another good example is if mom suddenly makes errors in following a recipe.
However, if mom always had problems following recipe directions, it probably isn't a sign of Alzheimers. Maybe she just hasn't ever been a good cook.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
This involves familiar tasks at home, at work and at leisure. Examples can include anything from not remembering how to drive to a familiar location to forgetting the rules of a favorite game.
Sometimes needing help for various activities would not be a sign of Alzheimer's.
For example, needing a reminder on how to set the clock on the microwave may not be concerning, while forgetting the rules to bridge would be, especially if your elderly loved one has been playing bridge a couple times a week for years.
Confusion with Time and Place
This one of the 10 warning signs can be very frightening for the elderly. They may readily recognize that they don't remember and it can create a panic, making the situation worse.
The dreaded question: "Where am I?" or "How did I get here?"
Sometimes we all forget what the date is or what day of the week it is, but with a little concentration we can remember.
If you notice that your loved one is beginning to forget where they are, how they got there or what day it is, please seek help immediately.
Visual Image and Spacial Relationship Problems
Visual problems may be a sign of Alzheimer's. For example, having difficulty judging distance or difficulty reading may be a concern.
Another example provided by the Alzheimer's Association is not understanding that the image in the mirror is the person themselves. They may not be able to understand that it is them and it can cause much fear. Can you imagine if every time you passed a mirror you thought someone was in the house?
There are certain age related visual problems that are not one of the 10 warning signs, such as difficulty reading due to cataracts.
This is one of the 10 warning signs that may be difficult to judge and may be best left up to a specialist during Alzheimer's testing.
New Problems with Words
This applies to both spoken words and written words. They may join into a conversation by speaking part of a sentence, and then be unable to remember how to proceed or what they were talking about.
Another example is word searching, not being able to recall what a particular object is called and calling it something different.
Sometimes we all have problems with remembering certain words. Know that "occasionally" is okay. "Consistently" is not and may be cause for concern.
Poor Judgement or Decision Making
Alzheimer's patients often have a problem with judgement and decision making.
They may suddenly give a large sum of money to charity or a particular person or may stop caring about personal hygiene.
This is often one of the first recognizable signs of Alzheimer's. Make sure if you notice this symptoms that you discuss it with both your elderly loved one and their primary physician.
If you notice changes in grooming habits, please follow through and look to discover if they are exhibiting other signs as well.
Social withdrawal is another early warning sign of Alzheimers disease and can include family, friends and work relationships. They may have trouble keeping up with friends and hobbies.
It may be that they are experiencing fear in certain social situations and they are most comfortable at home.
Sometimes we all get tired of social obligations, but if you are noticing a change consistently in social habits, it can be a warning sign.
Changes in Mood and Behavior
This can be one of the most upsetting of the 10 warning signs of alzheimers for family members and close friends.
Mood and behavior changes can involve everything from anger, agitation, depression, confusion and fear. Most often the mood changes may not seem appropriate to an outsider.
Often people suffering from Alzheimers have mood swings, sometimes rapidly. It can cause alienation of their support system.
Try not to react emotionally if you are confronted with mood and behavior changes. Step back and look at the overall picture.
Are they simply tired and frustrated? Or are the changes more significant and need medical follow up?
Do not misunderstand these warning signs. Your loved one does not have to have ALL 10 signs. Early detection and treatment is vital.
If you notice any of these signs on a consistent basis, make an appointment with your loved one's primary doctor. Speak to them directly without your loved one present if you can and then attend the appointment with them as well, if they will let you.
Alzheimer's treatment has come a long way in recent years. Alzheimers disease research continues and there are many effective treatment options. But the first step is recognizing the signs and seeking medical care.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. If you want more information, please go the the
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