WATCHING for telltale warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be detected in the early stages. It can be challenging to get a dementia diagnose for many reasons. But recognizing symptoms early is crucial as studies have shown that medication that is used to control symptoms is more effective in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. And this will also allow for individuals and their families to better plan for the future. They can choose different types of treatments.
Q: What are the warning signs?
A: Warning signs can be detected by you or your family and friends. www.alz.org, www.helpguide.org, are great resources for understanding warning signs. Lets take a look at a few here.
Progressive memory loss that disrupts daily life – forgetting the most recent learned information is one of the most common symptom, as well as asking the same information over and over.
Next we have decline in cognitive abilities – which is trouble with planning and solving problems. While challenges with completing a familiar task – like taking longer to complete a problem as in working with numbers, or balance a chequebook, or any task that was normally done without difficulty is a concern.
One of the most frightening experiences is confusion with time or place – imagine driving along to the store, you park your car, step out of the car and have no idea where you are at or how you got there. This experience sometimes will cause people to become isolated from fear of it happening again. Isolation is common in the early stages, as most people recognize in themselves that they are not able to keep up in a conversation or a favourite sport and will avoid embarrassment.
Another common symptom is problems with finding words or speaking them – they may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves, or may have trouble with vocabulary and finding that word.
This next symptom is often confused with eye sight problems, but it is trouble understanding images and special awareness – they may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining colour or contrast, which may cause problems with driving, or may not recognize their own self in the mirror.
This next one becomes irritating when they misplace items, and not able to retrace steps –this person may put things in unusual places or may accuse others of stealing. Agitation increases with this symptom as well. Their brain is not able to recollect that they themselves have hid the items.
Then we have decreased or poor judgement – making important poor financial decisions, has been a target for elder abuse. This is one of the many reasons people should talk to their families when symptoms start appearing, so they can work together to protect the family finances. And last, anytime a person is out of their comfort zone, changes in mood or personality – they may become irritable or upset, and sometimes challenging to others.
Q: What are normal signs of aging?
A: As we age we all may experience, missing a payment, making a bad decision once in a while, sometimes forgetting which word to use, forgetting which day it is – but remembering it later, or losing things from time to time. This is normal. As we age, the brain can become slower to obtain and interpret the information, but the information is not lost. It becomes a concern when there are any changes that are different from that person’s normal behaviour and progressively get worse.
When people experience these subtle signs, it is recommended to talk to your family and friends to see if they notice any changes, and it doesn’t hurt to work on memory games to strengthen your mind. There are several self memory tests online that you can use to keep track, and bring to your Dr, if there are concerns. Keep in mind, that these symptoms could be another condition. And the earlier we know of our condition, the better we can plan for our future as well as the possibility of preventing it from getting worse, or even reversing the symptoms.
If you or someone you love have any of these symptoms, document your experiences and bring them to your Dr.
If you or someone you love have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another dementia, know that you are not alone. Start a support group in your area or attend the next one on Saturday at the Creative Center in Rodney Bay at 3:00 p.m. No charge
Next week: Challenging behaviours
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org