While Alzheimer’s is not the only form of dementia, it is the most common, accounting for 60 – 80% of all dementia cases. Seniors 65 and older are typically the group of people affected by this type of dementia, but that does not make it a normal part of aging. It only means that increased age is the greatest risk factor known at this time.
Typically, age-related memory loss is normal to a certain extent. While many of these lapses in memory are normal, it is important to be aware of signs and symptoms of early Alzheimer’s, as it may be difficult to otherwise distinguish between the two. Alzheimer’s can cause a loved one to develop memory, thinking, and behavioral problems, which increasingly worsen over time and can eventually affect their ability to function in daily life.
So, how do you differentiate between them? Here are a few examples:
Symptoms of early Alzheimer's Typical age-related memory loss
Changes in decision-making abilities/ Poor judgment Occasionally making a poor decision
Difficulty managing a monthly budget Forgetting to pay a bill once
Difficulty keeping track of what season it is Forgetting what day it is then remembering
Difficulty following or maintaining a conversation Difficulty with trying to find the right word
Placing things in unusual places and then not Misplacing things occasionally
being able to retrace steps to locate them
More warning signs include: difficulty completing familiar daily tasks, spending more time than usual to do familiar things, forgetting how to play a favorite game, not knowing where they are or how they got there, difficulty retaining newly learned information, problems with vision and judging distance, personality and mood changes, and withdrawing from social activities and hobbies.
You may be thinking to yourself that your loved one has exhibited one or more of those signs. Before assuming the worst, it is also important to note that there are many reasons that a senior could be experiencing abnormal memory loss. For example, some seniors may be experiencing symptoms that are caused by a treatable condition like thyroid problems, drug interactions, substance or alcohol abuse, depression, and even a vitamin deficiency.
Individuals can experience one or more of these signs to varying degrees, and they develop slowly over time, making early detection very important. That is why it is essential to call your doctor if you notice a loved one exhibiting any of these symptoms, as well as be completely open with the doctor during the examination.
Although there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, there is continued research and treatment that is available to slow the progression and worsening of symptoms. If diagnosed early enough, this will help improve the quality of life for your loved one and caregiver, as well as prolong levels of independence.
Broaching the topic takes delicacy, and may be uncomfortable for your loved one. But early diagnosis is key in order to plan ahead and allow the senior to make their wishes known regarding their future medical care and living arrangements.
Morningside of College Park Retirement Community offers our experience and resources to care for those with Alzheimer's and other memory-related challenges. The Reflections Centre offers the finest care for your loved one, and our staff is trained by our local Alzheimer's Association.
Alzheimer’s is only one form of dementia, and it has many myths and stereotypes associated with it, so it is always best to seek a professional opinion in order to determine the cause of the memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers helpful information regarding symptoms, research, treatment, and support.
Visit their website for more information: http://www.alz.org/
To learn more about Morningside of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.
Written by Kristen Camden