We’ve all heard someone jokingly say, after forgetting an appointment or losing their keys, “Oh no, I must be getting Alzheimer’s.” For those of usein the medical community, we know this is no laughing matter. But we also know that everyone forgets things once in a while. It’s just a fact of life. Your brain is focused on one thing while you’re doing another, and all of a sudden time goes by and you can’t remember what it was you were doing, or where you left something. Being forgetful can often be attributed to fatigue, or just trying to do too many things at one time. But if you or a loved one is suffering from memory loss that disrupts your daily life, it could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. How do you know the difference? Here are a few of the early warning signs of dementia to look out for from the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Forgetting recently learned information.
- Forgetting important dates or events.
- Trouble with solving problems, including things like reconciling a checkbook or following a recipe.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as remembering the rules to a favorite game.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Not just losing items, but losing the ability to retrace your steps to find them.
- Changes in mood or personality.
Being at a loss for a word while having a conversation, forgetting what day it is, or missing someone’s birthday are all typical occurrences for many of us. It’s when things progress, to the point where the memory loss affects daily life that it is important to get something done. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your family doctor. There are many benefits to getting an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Research shows that the medication used to treat Alzheimer’s and/or dementia symptoms has better results when used early in the disease process. An early diagnosis also allows you more time to plan and participate in activities. Treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol and poorly controlled diabetes is also important, as is stopping smoking and keeping to a healthy weight. These factors all contribute strongly to vascular dementia, and may make Alzheimer’s disease worse. Medications for other conditions can be reviewed, in case they are having a negative effect on how well your mind is working.
At Piedmont Home Health, our staff is specially trained in care for Alzheimer’s and/or dementia patients, and we know how important it is for the caregiver to have some help while caring for a loved one.