07 Jul Do I have Alzheimer’s Disease? 10 Warning Signs
I cannot begin to tell you how many people have come up to me over the last 15 years and told me they think they have Alzheimer’s Disease. People of all different ages, young and old, will say, “Trish, I can’t remember where I put my keys, I think I am losing it”; “Trish, I walked into the kitchen and forgot why I went there”; “Trish, I lost my phone twice this week, but thank goodness I found it”; “Trish, what is wrong with me, do I have Alzheimer’s Disease?” The answer is 99.99% of the time “No”. I don’t take these comments lightly, but lets not confuse what is normal memory loss with Alzheimer’s Disease.
One must realize, that we cannot throw around the words Alzheimer’s Disease so easily. These two words, Alzheimer’s Disease carry weight and carry meaning.
We ALL have the ability to forget and there are normal changes that occur as we age.
To help you understand better, the following are the top ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:
- Memory Loss that disrupts normal life
- Challenges in planning and solving problems
- Difficulty completing tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
If you feel that you have several of the above mentioned warning signs then it is recommended to follow through and schedule an appointment with your doctor. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed because with early intervention you can still lead a very productive life. There are many options available to ensure you maintain your quality of life.
In some cases, there are medical issues other than Alzheimer’s Disease that contribute to memory loss that are reversible with intervention.
An infection can contribute to a change in memory and antibiotics can help you return to your previous baseline. So if you detect memory loss, see your family doctor right away to determine if it may be caused by something other than Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many normal changes that come with aging so don’t beat yourself up because you forgot someone’s name at a party, forgot to pay your monthly phone bill or were having difficulty articulating your thoughts. We all have our moments and if you are able to recall the individual’s name once you returned home, pay the phone bill 11 times out of 12 and was able to have a meaningful conversation with your spouse you are just fine. We all want to hear that we are healthy and well. Once we hear that we are, we have a tendency to put the worry behind us.
Many of our everyday forgetfulness can be avoided by maintaining a routine and structure to our day. We all develop our own systems to keep track of our lives and help us remember. I have 4 different calendars; a school calendar in my purse, a large calendar in my kitchen, my iPhone calendar and my large agenda. I am also the queen of post-it notes, I have them in all different sizes, stuck to my calendars and my computer screen. Without these methods of keeping me organized, trust me I would forget about many things too.
Find a system to help you remember significant events:
- Using a calendar or daily planner/agenda
- Writing things down on a note pad
- Updating notes in your Smartphone
- Keeping a “To do Lists”
- Maintaining a routine and schedule
As individuals we have to cut ourselves some slack and realize that we have so many responsibilities that we cannot do it all. This constant need to be superwoman leads to stress which can trigger forgetfulness. I use to feel very overwhelmed and anxious because I was being pulled in so many different directions. The anxiety made me forget important tasks and I finally came to the realization that I had to develop a better routine for myself. I began declining invitations that I knew I wouldn’t be able to give my full 100% attention to, the ability to say, “No” allowed me to be more productive and in many ways more alert, aware and on the ball.
So the next time you forget where you put your glasses, think twice, retrace your steps and then you will realize that they are most likely sitting on the top of your head!