When a senior loved one in Michigan forgets a name, has trouble managing their finances or repeats themselves in a conversation, you might immediately worry that they have Alzheimer’s Disease. You might also dismiss these as a normal part of the aging process.
While these issues may seem minor, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends that older adults with noticeable decline in memory and reasoning see a doctor for a complete evaluation.
Though Alzheimer’s is incurable, early diagnosis can make a difference. Prompt detection means that your aging parent can start treatments that alleviate the worst symptoms of the disease. Knowing your loved one has Alzheimer’s also allows you both to plan ahead and make important decisions about future care.
If you suspect Alzheimer’s, keep track of your loved one’s behavior by monitoring these symptoms:
1) Significant memory loss: Of course, some forgetfulness is common in older adults. But when memory loss affects daily life, Alzheimer’s may be the cause. Are there times when your aging parent cannot provide the date or identify the season? Make note of instances when your senior loved one forgot an important event, has consistent difficulty recalling names and finishing sentences, or repeatedly asks the same questions.
2) Declining ability to think and reason: You may notice that your aging parent is not able to balance a checkbook, read assembly instructions or do puzzles that they once enjoyed. A senior loved one with Alzheimer’s might also be overly generous with charitable donations or make exorbitant purchases.
3) Increased difficulty with routine tasks: Look for instances when your loved one forgets how to start the coffee maker, plug in a lamp or dial the telephone. Be aware that they may attempt to hide these situations to avoid embarrassment.
4) Misplaced belongings: We all lose our car keys or have trouble locating our cell phone from time to time. But an older adult with Alzheimer’s might do this more frequently, and even place items in unusual places. They might place a remote control in the freezer or putting the car keys in a bathroom cabinet.
5) Poor hygiene: Do you notice that your loved one isn’t bathing regularly, stops brushing their teeth and shaving? Does he skip meals, but eat heartily when food is put in front of him? Forgetting these routine tasks is a common sign of Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia.
6) Withdrawal from social activities and conversations: If your aging parent declines party invitations or wants to go home shortly after their arrival, they may have Alzheimer’s. Social situations may make them uncomfortable because they experience difficulty engaging in conversations.
7) Increased isolation: People with Alzheimer’s often retreat from family gatherings because of over stimulation. You may also notice that your senior loved one is no longer interested in television programs or movies and seems more comfortable sitting alone in a quiet room.
8) Personality changes: Alzheimer’s disease can cause significant mood swings and shifts in personalities. Be sure to tell the doctor if your aging parent is more angry, upset or fearful than usual.
For more information about early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease, visit the Greater Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.