When an Indiana senior you love is becoming forgetful or repeating what they just said in a conversation, you might wonder if this is an early sign of dementia or just a typical part of aging. Some of the myths surrounding aging make it difficult for adult children and family caregivers to tell the difference. But there are some early warning signs that are important to monitor and discuss with your aging parent’s physician.
Recognizing the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
If you suspect your senior loved one might be developing Alzheimer’s, keep a journal to track these warning signs:
- Significant memory loss: Some forgetfulness is common in adults of all ages. When memory loss affects daily life, however, Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia may be the cause. Make note of what kind of information your senior loved one forgets (i.e. names, events, appointments) and how often. Also keep track of whether or not they remember the information later.
- Neglecting hygiene: Does your loved one seem to be neglecting their personal hygiene? You might notice they are neglecting to shave or not styling their hair like they’ve always done. While this is sometimes a sign of depression, it can also be an early indicator of dementia.
- Misplacing belongings: We all misplace things on occasion. Some younger adults may even routinely lose track of their car keys or wallet. But when a pattern of losing things or placing things in odd locations develops in an older adult, it can be cause for concern. Keep track of those situations and especially monitor how your loved one reacts. Do they accuse people of stealing from them? Paranoia is often an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
- Decline in abstract thought process: You may notice your Indiana senior is struggling to balance their checkbook, put money in the parking meter or enjoy a crossword puzzle. These are all behaviors that require problem solving and abstract thought. For someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, these types of tasks can be challenging. It isn’t uncommon for a senior to recognize there is a problem but try to hide these behaviors from caregivers and loved ones.
- Withdrawing from family and social activities: If your aging family member has been isolating themselves from friends and loved ones, it can be a red flag something is wrong. They may be uncomfortable in social situations because they know something is wrong but don’t understand what is happening to them.
- Change in personality: Alzheimer’s disease can cause significant change in personality. Paranoia, mood swings and angry outbursts are common. Be sure to track those behaviors and note them in your journal to share with their family physician.
While these issues may seem small, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends that older adults who exhibit noticeable changes in memory and reasoning talk with their primary care physician. Early detection means your family member may be able to explore clinical trials that may help slow the progression of the disease. It also allows your family to plan ahead and make important decisions about the future.