Have you noticed mom or dad acting a bit differently lately? While we all slow with age and have the occasional bout with memory problems, there are clear signs it may be something more.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. We all forget things once in awhile. Yet when they become frequent and they begin to disrupt your quality of life, its time to check in with the doctor. Watch and take notice if your parent forgets important dates or events, relies extensively on memory aids, such as writing notes and posting them all over the house, or if they ask the same questions over and over again.
2. Difficulty with familiar tasks. Take your parent out for a drive. Can they get to the store? Can they find their way home? You can also check their checking account and verify if they are keeping up with bills and balancing on a regular basis.
3. Confusion with times and locations. Alzheimer’s patients can quickly become confused and lose track of dates and seasons, and even where they are. Watch for large gaps, such as thinking its winter in the middle of the summer. Also watch for signs that they are easily confused on what day of the week it is, and can never pinpoint it within a short period of time.
4. Trouble with visual images. For some people, they may begin having vision problems. They may have difficulty reading, judging distances or determining contrast. For some, cataracts may be at fault; be sure you judge several areas that relate to this, such as difficulty reading and confusion in understanding what was read.
5. Confusion with conversations. People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble staying involved in conversations and choose not to join in instead. They may stop in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue. They may repeat themselves over and over again. Or they may struggle to find the right words.
6. Misplacing items in unusual places. We all misplace our keys on occasion. Yet they are usually found in a common place – the bottom of your purse, a coat pocket, or a table by the front door. Alzheimer’s may place similar objects in unusual places, such as the refrigerator or the pantry.
7. Poor judgement. Watch for changes in buying or spending patterns. Alzheimer’s patients increasingly will have poor judgement on what they spend their money on, such as giving away large amounts to a telemarketer, or buying large amounts of the same thing (i.e. toilet paper, soap, cleaners, etc).
8. Changes in mood and personality. Alzheimer’s patients will exhibit a wide variety of mood and personality changes over a short period of time. They may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious, happy and sad, all within a short period of time. If you notice your parent becoming increasingly upset at trivial things, it may be time to schedule a meeting with his or her doctor.