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Eight Signs of Alzheimer’s

January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. If you are a caregiver to an older parent, relative or spouse it is important to know what signs to look for.

Sadly, we often choose to look the other way when it comes to our loved ones developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia’s. Bart Mindszenthy, author of Parenting Your Parents, says that when it comes to issues like Alzheimer’s, parents are “in a state of denial” and their adult children or spouses are “in a state of avoidance”. These are difficult issues to face, but ignoring them just compound them. Knowledge will prepare you to face difficult times.

Do you know the Eight Signs of Alzheimer’s?

If there has been a change in the following areas, you may be dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

  1. Memory Lapses. Do they often forget things, especially things learned recently? Are there repetitive questions and re-telling of stories, sometimes minutes of being mentioned?
  2. Confusion over words. Going blank when speaking occasionally is very normal. If it is increasing or becoming common place that should be a warning sign. Having difficulty saying the “right” word is also common. The word “hairdresser” might be used instead of “hairdryer”. This is very frustrating for the person trying to communicate.
  3. Marked Changes in Mood or Personality. If your normally out-going mother becomes withdrawn or assertive and suddenly has uncharacteristic fears, this could be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Marked mood swings and changes to sleep and appetite should be cause for concern.
  4. Trouble with Abstract Thinking. If your normally competent spouse is now struggling to pay the bills, follow discussions or instructions, see a doctor.
  5. Difficulty Completing Familiar Activities. This was the first thing we noticed with my mother-in-law. An accomplished cook and baker, we arrived for a visit to find she had only boiled carrots for the meal. She also had half- finished knitting projects and only seemed to half-clean her apartment.
  6. Disorientation. Getting disoriented in an area he knows well or getting lost and turned around more easily than normal while driving may be a sign of Alzheimer’s.  People also can lose track of time – not remembering the time of day, month or year.
  7. Misplacing items. Although many of us suffer with losing our keys, glasses or wallets, if there is an increase in this behaviour or things are being found in inappropriate places – be concerned. Finding a wallet in the freezer would be an obvious one. My mother developed this early on. She will “stash” stuff away in random places so no one takes it, only to forget where she put it. Taking it to the next level, then she will believe someone stole it.
  8. Poor or Impaired Judgement. If your loved one is making questionable- out of character – choices, have them assessed. Some of those things might be: poor money decisions, hoarding or purging, can’t seem to make a simple choice, not taking care of themselves properly, their dressing not matching or not weather appropriate and not being able to plan ahead.

The more we know the more prepared we are.

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