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May 30

[ARCHIVED] Don't You Forget About Me

The original item was published from May 30, 2023 1:07 PM to June 1, 2023 6:49 PM

Don't You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me
Am I getting just getting older or is it a sign of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Your brain can be a tricky thing. This complex organ begins developing soon after conception and continues into early adulthood.   Arguably, the most part of your body, it controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates your body. 

For something so powerful, it sure remains mysterious. It can be hard to figure out why our brains do the things they do, but new scientific research is being conducted every day to give us insight into our brains. 

As we age, you may start to worry as you find yourself forgetting things.  You may find yourself in the kitchen going “Wait, why did I come in here again?”.   You may be talking to a loved one on the phone while looking for your phone.  You may be looking for your glasses and finding them on top of your head where they have been the entire time.

The most important thing to remember (ha! See what we did there?) is that forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging.  Just because you are forgetting things, that doesn’t necessary mean that you are showing early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As we get older, changes occur in all parts of our bodies, and that includes our brain.  It can take longer to learn new things, you can not recall information as quickly as you may have when you were younger, and you may lose things (like those pesky glasses or phones).  

That being said, Alzheimer’s Disease is serious, and early detection is key.  There are new treatments available that can reduce cognitive or functional decline in people living with early Alzheimer’s. Other treatments can temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms and greatly improve quality of life.

From the Alzheimer’s Association, here are ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease as well as examples of what may just be age-related.   If you are concerned and are exhibiting more than one warning sign, please see your doctor to talk to them about your concerns.

1. Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same questions over and over, and increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What's a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

2. Challenges in Planning or Problem Solving

Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What's a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills.

3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What's a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use microwave settings or to record a TV show.

4. Confusion with Time or Place

People living with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What's a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.

What's a typical age-related change?
Vision changes related to cataracts.

6. New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing

People living with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock").

What's a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7. Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps

A person living with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. He or she may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses.

What's a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

8. Decreased or Poor Judgment

Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What's a typical age-related change?
Making a bad decision or mistake once in a while, like neglecting to change the oil in the car.

9. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.

What's a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling uninterested in family or social obligations.

10. Changes in Mood and Personality

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.

What's a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.