When your father struggles to remember a grandchild’s name, should you be concerned? Older adults typically have some memory loss. People with Alzheimer’s disease, however, experience very specific changes in their thinking that go beyond the normal forgetfulness of aging.
You might consider a dementia evaluation if your loved one has begun having difficulty with the following:
- Remembering new things. Do you have to give the same information over and over again?
- Dealing with numbers and logical thinking. Is Dad fumbling with the checkbook? Having trouble with a favorite card game?
- Familiar activities. Is Mom leaving ingredients out of favorite recipes? Skipping steps?
- Understanding the passage of time. Do you have to remind your loved one of the season or year?
- Changes in vision. Does Dad have trouble judging distances? Does he get easily lost or disoriented, not recognizing familiar places?
- Carrying on a conversation. Is Mom repeating herself or seeming to make up words? Do her answers in a conversation not make sense with the topic?
- Losing things. Are you finding things put in odd places?
- Poor decision making. Is Dad spending money on unusual purchases? Do you have to convince Mom to bathe?
- Socializing or doing hobbies. Has Mom given up a favorite hobby or withdrawn from a group of friends?
- Staying calm. Is your loved one suddenly moody? Perhaps anxious or irritable?
Any one of these changes in behavior could signal the beginning of a more serious memory problem, or not. That is why it’s important to have your loved one checked out by a physician.
- It may not be Alzheimer’s. A number of reversible conditions look like Alzheimer’s. With proper diagnosis and treatment, these symptoms disappear.
- If it is Alzheimer’s, there are benefits to detecting it as early as possible. Medications are available that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Other medications may help relieve mood symptoms.
For more information about what’s normal and what’s not, check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s in-depth description of the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s.