Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in Seniors
We’ve all had that moment where you walk into a room and can’t remember why, or you can’t think of the right word, or you’ve misplaced your keys. While these are all very distressing, they’re not symptoms of dementia. As we age, it’s normal to have “senior moments” more often. As part of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we’re sharing the Alzheimer’s Association’s 10 warning signs of dementia, so you can recognize the difference while increasing Alzheimer’s awareness. Keep in mind, a person needs to have at least two of the following, and they must be severe enough to interfere with daily life, to receive a dementia diagnosis. Additionally, these symptoms could be early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Forgetfulness is the warning sign most people associate with dementia and early Alzheimer’s. Usually a senior forgets important dates or events, or asks for the same information over and over. They might increasingly depend on reminder notes or family members for things they used to do on their own.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
As we age it’s not uncommon to need a little extra help with new tasks, like how to use a smart phone. But in the case of dementia, a senior has trouble following instructions, such as recipes. Or they might struggle with numbers, like keeping track of monthly bills.
3. Difficulty completing a familiar task
When everyday, routine tasks become challenging, it’s a sign a senior could have dementia. For example, they might struggle with dialing a phone, doing laundry or driving a car.
4. Confusion with time and place
It’s normal to occasionally get mixed up about what day it is, however a senior with dementia has trouble keeping track of dates, seasons or the passage of time. They may not understand something if it’s not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
Vision problems that are not caused by typical age-related problems, like cataracts is also an indicator of dementia. A senior may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.
6. New problems with words in speaking and writing
While it’s normal to occasionally have trouble finding the right word, a senior with dementia might struggle to find the words to communicate or explain something. They call things by the wrong name. Seniors with dementia also struggle to participate in a conversation.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
Losing track of things is another warning sign. A senior may put items in unusual places, like the TV remote in the refrigerator. They may struggle with being able to retrace their steps to locate misplaced items. Also, they may begin to accuse others of stealing.
8. Decreased or poor judgement
You might notice a senior’s inability to make good decisions. For example, they may not groom themselves regularly, or use poor judgment when dealing with money.
It’s common for a senior with dementia to stop doing things they once enjoyed, like hobbies or following a favorite team. They may also avoid going out and socializing with friends.
10. Changes in mood or personality
A person with dementia may seem like their personality has changed. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home or when they’re out of their comfort zone.
As national Alzheimer’s month draws to a close, it’s important to recognize these types of cognitive and behavioral changes in your loved one. If you think he or she may be showing two or more of these signs, consult with a doctor to get a professional assessment. And for those playing the role of a caregiver, discover ways you can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease before it starts.