Did you ever walk into a room and completely forget why you went in there? Have you ever forgot where you parked? These memory slips are completely normal if they happen occasionally. If they become more frequent, however, it could be a sign of early stages of Alzheimer's.
It is normal for some lapses of memory as you age a your brains processing speed slows down. While a few memory lapses are normal, there are some common signs that Alzheimer's is starting to set in. The sooner it is treated the better life you or your loved one will have, and the better chance they have of slowing this process down. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but new drugs have been developed to help slow the process down. Lets go over some early warning signs that Alzheimer's is setting in.(1)
This is not forgetting where you parked every once in awhile. At first, your short term memory starts to slip, with long term memory issues coming later. You may forget the name of a new co-worker or an appointment you had. These can be considered normal. The difference between regular forgetfullnes and dementia is how you remember things.
Many people have bouts of memory loss, but they can give stark details about where and what they were doing at the time, and remember the place they where it happened. When dementia begins to set in people can only acknowledge memory loss when asked and often times are unable to recall specific instances.(1)
Mood or Personality Changes
Slowing down is natural for anyone as they age. They may not ride bike every day, or want to do things like big parties. There are certain changes that are not normal for an aging adult.
Some of these changes may be subtle, but if you notice these about you or a loved one you should make an appointment with a doctor or talk to someone you trust. This can be hard to deal with as some of the behavior changes do not seem to make sense.
Ordinary Tasks Become Difficult
Forgetting simple things that people normally did with ease, such as cooking, playing a game of cards, or anything that was a routine task. Memory loss is associated with aging, but if you or your loved one forget how to dress yourselves, or lock the door it is a clear sign that something is not right.
If your loved one is struggling with everyday tasks it might be a sign to go see a doctor. It is important to see a doctor right away when you notice any of these symptoms because other health issues can cause some of these symptoms also, and its important to get a true diagnosis.(1)
Getting Lost in Ordinary Places
Forgetting places that you visited months ago, or an address for a hotel you may have been to in the last year is a normal part of aging. It has to do with forgetting things that you don't do all that often. Getting lost in an unfamiliar place fits the normal aging memory loss most people experience.
Getting lost on the street you live on, or the town you've driven in for 20 years is not part of that process. This is especially dangerous because you can end up somewhere you don't actually know, become confused and agitated, or be taken advantage of by someone else.(3)
Living with Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a progressive, long-term disease. It changes any life it touches drastically, and should be handled with professional and caring help. Being the spouse of someone who has this incredibly daunting disease can be just as hard as the person who has it. Like any chronic disease, the earlier it is detected the better the treatments will work. If you are someone you know is exerting any of these symptoms or signs contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible.