Did you know that more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease? In fact, every 60 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s, a debilitating disease. It’s the most common form of dementia that erases a sufferer’s memory slowly; nearly two-thirds of those sufferers are women, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and at American House Senior Living Communities, we’re following the latest research to help residents and their loved ones stay informed when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, including tips for families.
It can be scary when a loved one starts acting differently. Here are 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s (from the Alzheimer’s Association), along with typical age-related changes:
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Forgetfulness is common – when it happens sporadically. But forgetting recently-learned information is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s. Forgetting about important events, increasingly needing devices to help memory (such as new sticky notes or electronic reminders) and repeatedly asking for the same information may indicate memory loss. In addition, the need to rely on loved ones for things usually handled alone is also an indicator.
Typical, age-related changes: Forgetting names or appointments sometimes, but remembering them later.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
With early signs of Alzheimer’s, sufferers may find it difficult to develop or follow a plan — including recipes or a monthly budget. Working with numbers may become a struggle, especially when it comes to handling the bills each month. Concentration may lag — and distractions abound — and completing tasks may take longer.
Typical, age-related changes: Occasionally making errors when balancing the checkbook.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
With Alzheimer’s, it may become hard to do daily activities like remembering the rules to a game, driving somewhere familiar or managing a work budget. It’s the act of forgetting something that was once routine that is alarming. Try these 8 Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s.
Typical, age-related changes: Technology issues, such as sometimes needing helping using the settings on the microwave or DVR.
4. Confusion with time or place
Losing track of the date — the passing of time as a whole — can be pretty commonplace for people who have Alzheimer’s. It’s also not uncommon for those with Alzheimer’s to forget where they are, or to even forget how they got there.
Typical, age-related changes: Momentarily forgetting what day of the week it is (like feeling like it is Friday when it’s only Thursday), but figuring it out eventually.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Vision problems — such as reading, judging distance and even determining color — may signal Alzheimer’s. Problems driving may then follow suit, which is obviously a dangerous activity at that point.
Typical, age-related changes: Cataracts and the accompanying vision issues.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
The inability to follow a conversation and calling objects by the wrong name are common symptoms of Alzheimer’s. For someone who used to be a chatterbox, the sudden trouble keeping up with a discussion among friends can be a warning sign.
Typical, age-related changes: However, we’ve all had a word on the tip of our tongue slip our minds — no reason to fret, as long as it’s not a common occurrence.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
This is more than just forgetting where you put that warranty for the oven. With Alzheimer’s, someone may place their keys somewhere strange — like the freezer — and not be able to figure out where they are. Repeatedly. The person may even accuse others of stealing them.
Typical, age-related changes: Intermittently misplacing things, but being able to retrace steps in order to find the missing items.
8. Decreased or poor judgment
Have you questioned the actions of a loved one lately? Such as handing out large sums of money, or maybe even forgetting to comb their hair when going out in public? Alzheimer’s affects people’s decision-making skills and clouds judgment.
Typical, age-related changes: Occasionally making a bad decision.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
When someone who normally loves to watch the World Series or Super Bowl suddenly has no interest in the games — or even what teams are playing — Alzheimer’s may be a factor. Keeping up with hobbies and social interactions becomes difficult and changes from the disease may make a person want to avoid others.
Typical, age-related changes: Sometimes not wanting to go to a party or fulfill other social obligations.
10. Changes in mood and personality
Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease that greatly impacts mood and personality. As a result, sufferers can become depressed, suspicious, fearful, confused or anxious — and new situations and people may lead to increased frustration and unease.
Typical, age-related changes: On the other hand, over time it’s not unusual to develop specific routines — and if those routines are disrupted, it can be typical to become irritated.
Not only are we working with residents and their loved ones to keep them informed on Alzheimer’s disease research, but American House also offers memory care for residents. Call us today at (248) 579-4422 to schedule a tour!