As all of us get older, we will notice changes in the way we interact with the world around us. Approaching your Golden Years can be empowering and exciting, but it can also be a daunting process. As your body adapts to the demands of your maturing health, each of us will have a unique different with aging.
There are several hallmarks of becoming a senior that are considered “typical”. There are also some symptoms of aging that are considered less typical and indicate underlying health issues. At Cedarhurst, we want to offer the very best care to facilitate the appropriate balance of independence and support for you. Part of that process is identifying if you or a loved one are a candidate for our customized Memory Care services.
Below are ten early warning signs associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve also included an explanation of how normal parts of the maturation process can be misinterpreted as signs of a potentially larger issue.
If you have any questions about the ten traits listed below, do not hesitate to contact a member of the Cedarhurst team or another qualified professional for more information
Memory loss that disrupts daily life:
We all forget things! Most adults lose track of names or appointments every now and again only to remember them later.
You should pay extra attention when you or a loved one starts forgetting recently learned information or important dates and events. You may notice the need for additional memory aids like reminder notes, electronic devices, or relying on a family member to help handle things that were previously managed independently. Another indicator of unusual memory loss is repeatedly asking for the same pieces of information.
Challenges in planning or solving problems:
Sometimes writing out a to-do list is the hardest part of the day. Life can get busy and tasks like balancing a checkbook or writing a grocery list, where tedious and repetitive activities come together to form a larger plan, can be an impossible feat. Occasional errors when planning are things we all struggle with as we age.
You should pay extra attention when you or a loved one experience a notable change in your ability to follow a normal routine. When things like recipes, keeping track of monthly bills, or the rules of a favorite board game become difficult or require more concentration than usual, it may be cause for additional attention.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home or at work:
There’s a big difference between things that seem easy and things that are easy. As a senior, forgetting how to reset your wireless network or change the clock in your car are just as challenging for you as they are for your grandchildren.
You should pay extra attention when a loved one is unable to do the things that were previously simple for them. A sign of memory loss is trouble driving to familiar places, or sending emails at work.
Confusion with time or place:
We are all guilty of losing track of time or not being able to remember what day of the week it is.
You should pay extra attention when you or a loved one begin to become confused by things that are not happening immediately. Forgetting where you are or how you got there, completely becoming lost in the passage of time, and lacking awareness of what year or season it is are all signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships:
As we age, sometimes our vision worsens, especially due to cataracts.
You should pay extra attention when you or a loved one have trouble processing the images you see. For example, passing a mirror and thinking someone else is in the room, not recognizing your own reflection, having difficulty reading, or determining color and contrast are more extreme vision problems that are connected to a deterioration of mental function rather than just eyesight.
New problems communicating:
How many times has a word or name been just on the tip of your tongue? This is a normal phenomenon that even the sharpest of minds fall victim to.
You should pay extra attention when you or a loved one are no longer able to follow or join conversations. There is a stark difference between briefly losing your train of thought and becoming so confused that you are no longer able to read, write, or remember the words for common items (for example calling a wristwatch a hand clock).
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps:
The phrase: “I’d lose my head if it weren’t attached to my body” is quite popular for good reason. Car keys, remote controls, that extra sock, and glasses always seem to find their way out of your memory eventually.
You should pay extra attention when you or a loved one are no longer capable of mentally retracing your steps to the last time you saw a lost item. Common examples of this situation for individuals with Alzheimer’s may end with accusing someone of stealing. If running through the events of a day, week, or even year to identify where you left something becomes an overwhelming feat, further attention to this problem could be warranted.
Decreased or poor judgment:
No matter how many years a person has lived, we will all still experience the occasional lapse in judgement. Making bad decisions every once in a while is nothing more than a sign of being human.
You should pay extra attention if you or a loved one begin to struggle to apply sound decision making for more common or important activities. People suffering from memory loss will sometimes stop grooming themselves, allowing their hygiene to completely fall into a state of disrepair. Being significantly careless with money, giving enormous sums of cash to telemarketers for example, is also a frequent side-effect of this warning sign.
Withdraw from work or social activities:
No person can be expected to be perpetually excited about work. It’s also fairly common to become wary of unpleasant social situations or events.
You should pay extra attention if you or a loved one begins to disconnect from favorite hobbies, sports, or family events. This change is more related to feeling deeply uncomfortable in situations that used to inspire happiness, often because the steps of participating in a seemingly routine activity have been forgotten.
Changes in mood and personality:
After years in the workforce, raising a family, and finding the best way to go about daily life, we all build routines that make the world a little bit easier to tackle. No one can blame someone for becoming a little irritable when our typical schedules are interrupted by unexpected or unpleasant diversions.
You should pay extra attention if you or a loved one starts to adopt personality traits that are obviously associated with discomfort in previously familiar environments. Confusion, anxiety, fear, violence, rage, or depression can begin to creep into the lives of those with Alzheimer’s disease. These emotions are often overwhelming and frequent for someone dealing with Memory Loss.
These top 10 keys for early detection were sourced directly from the Alzheimer’s Association® website. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, visit alz.org/10signs or call 800.272.390.
If you or a loved one believes they would be a good fit for Cedarhurst’s Memory Care services. Click here for more information about how we care for our community members that exhibit some of the above behaviors.