Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in the aging community. However, just forgetting a few things or getting upset about changes are not necessary a sign of Alzheimer’s. Learning to determine the difference between normal aging problems and early signs of Alzheimer’s is the first step in knowing if you or a loved one has a problem.
Memory loss is the most typical sign of Alzheimer’s disease. This is also common in the natural aging process. However, the biggest difference is the disruption of normal daily activities. As we age our brain makes less of the necessary chemical for the brain cells. This means that by the age of 20 it becomes more difficult to remember things. This is common. However, the difference would be if it interferes with daily living. Forgetting a person’s name is fine if you remember what it is later. If you have difficulty remembering how to do things that you do very often then this could be a cause of concern.
Planning and solving problems
Those that suffer from Alzheimer’s will have a problem solving problems. Having a problem calculating and balancing a checkbook is a common problem among the aging population. However, an occasional error is not a cause of concern. The only time this is a problem is if you notice a problem with keeping track of bills and keeping up with an order of a plan. Having difficulty following a recipe especially a recipe that you have fixed often is a big cause to worry.
Problems with familiar tasks
Having problems learning how to adjust to common technology is common to the aging. If your loved one asks you for help with the microwave or TV this can be very common. Familiar tasks that an elderly person should not need help with include those that are tasks that they have done for some time. Remembering how to do personal hygiene and going to familiar places are things that should come easy for those that are just simply aging. Patients that are experiencing difficulties with common tasks should seek medical help.
Time or place problems
It is not uncommon as we age to forget what day of the week it is, or not remembering a place you have only been to once or twice. If you remember the day later then this is just a sign of common aging. However, if you find yourself forgetting what year it is it is time to worry. Places that are common to the patient should not cause any confusion. It is ok to forget some things, but if the forgetfulness causes worry or anxiety then it may mean something more serious is going on.
Problems with words
Having trouble finding the right word for an object is a very common problem when advancing in age. However, those that are suffering from something more severe may call things by the wrong name. A person that is simply aging can join a conversation and follow the flow of words. Alzheimer’s causes a person to lose track of what they were trying to say and may find it hard to join the conversations.
Mood and personality
One of the hardest things for families is the change of mood and personality that comes with aging. Many times a person of advance age have their own way of doing things. It is not uncommon for them not to want to change things or not wanting their routine interrupted. If a patient is suffering from Alzheimer’s they will get very upset about things. They do not like to be out of their comfort zone, and will get very defensive if forced to be outside of things that are comfortable. They may even become depressed or angry toward others. Often times they are sometimes suspicious of others.
Dealing with aging and Alzheimer’s can be very difficult. Knowing the difference between what is normal and what is cause for concern will help in early detection of Alzheimer’s. If any type of change in behavior seems to challenge day to day life, and relationships it is time to seek professional help.