Forgetfulness: Knowing When To Ask For Help
While mild forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging, it can also be a sign of more serious memory problems, such as mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or even Alzheimers disease.
Many people worry about becoming forgetful. They think forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimers disease. Over the past few years, scientists have learned a lot about memory and why some kinds of memory problems are serious but others are not.
Stage 6: Severe Decline
As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one might recognize faces but forget names. They might also mistake a person for someone else, for instance, think their wife is their mother. Delusions might set in, such as thinking they need to go to work even though they no longer have a job.
You might need to help them go to the bathroom.
It might be hard to talk, but you can still connect with them through the senses. Many people with Alzheimer’s love hearing music, being read to, or looking over old photos.
At this stage, your loved one might struggle to:
- Feed themselves
Stage 4: Moderate Decline
During this period, the problems in thinking and reasoning that you noticed in stage 3 get more obvious, and new issues appear. Your friend or family member might:
- Forget details about themselves
- Have trouble putting the right date and amount on a check
- Forget what month or season it is
- Have trouble cooking meals or even ordering from a menu
- Struggle to use the telephone
- Not understand what is said to them
- Struggle to do tasks with multiple steps like cleaning the house.
You can help with everyday chores and their safety. Make sure they aren’t driving anymore, and that no one tries to take advantage of them financially.
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Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimers disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Other signs include forgetting important commitments, asking the same questions repeatedly, and an increasing reliance on memory aids or family members for things usually handled by an individual on their own.
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Trouble And Hesitation Initiating Conversations
It takes a certain skillset to make good conversationperiod. And it takes a lot of confidence to start them, too. But if you’ve always been a social butterfly and you suddenly find that you can’t so much as utter a greeting to an old friend, this could be one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s, as the Alzheimer’s Association notes.
Similar to social withdrawal, those with Alzheimer’s often avoid conversation in order to hide their mental decline. And for more surprising symptoms, here are 40 Signs of Poor Health No One Over 40 Should Ignore.
Talking With A Doctor
After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:
- talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
- contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team
What Is Alzheimers Disease
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Alzheimers disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. People with Alzheimers also experience changes in behavior and personality.
More than 6;million Americans, many of them age 65 and older, are estimated to have Alzheimers disease. Thats more individuals living with Alzheimers disease than the population of a large American city. Many more people experience Alzheimer’s in their lives as family members and friends of those with the disease.
The symptoms of Alzheimers disease changes in thinking, remembering, reasoning, and behavior are known as dementia. Thats why Alzheimers is sometimes referred to as dementia. Other diseases and conditions can also cause dementia, with Alzheimers being the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Its the result of complex changes in the brain that start years before symptoms appear and lead to the loss of brain cells and their connections.
Vascular Contributions To Alzheimers Disease
People with dementia seldom have only Alzheimers-related changes in their brains. Any number of vascular issuesproblems that affect blood vessels, such as beta-amyloid deposits in brain arteries, atherosclerosis , and mini-strokesmay also be at play.
Vascular problems may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain, as well as a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, which usually protects the brain from harmful agents while allowing in glucose and other necessary factors. In a person with Alzheimers, a faulty blood-brain barrier prevents glucose from reaching the brain and prevents the clearing away of toxic beta-amyloid and tau proteins. This results in inflammation, which adds to vascular problems in the brain. Because it appears that Alzheimers is both a cause and consequence of vascular problems in the brain, researchers are seeking interventions to disrupt this complicated and destructive cycle.
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Stage 3: Mild Decline
It’s at this point that you start to notice changes in your loved one’s thinking and reasoning, such as:
- Forgets something they just read
- Asks the same question over and over
- Has more and more trouble making plans or organizing
- Can’t remember names when meeting new people
You can help by being your loved one’s “memory” for them, making sure they pay bills and get to appointments on time. You can also suggest they ease stress by retiring from work and putting their legal and financial affairs in order.
What Are The Early Signs Of Dementia
Symptoms of dementia are caused by changes in the brain; changes that can begin years before early dementia signs present themselves. There are three general stages for Alzheimer’s mild , moderate , and severe . The speed at which a patient moves through these stages varies, but progression of the symptoms themselves follows a fairly standardized path.
The most common early dementia symptoms are forgetfulness and short-term memory loss. Patients may forget where they left something or have trouble recalling the details of a conversation, but long-term memory and the remembering of important dates or events is typically unaffected in early stages of dementia.
As the symptoms of Alzheimer’s progress, patients become increasingly confused about simple facts such as time or place and may have difficulty concentrating; they can still complete regular tasks, but concentrating may take longer than usual.
Over time, symptoms of dementia may include frequently misplacing objects and an increased difficulty completing daily tasks. Patients are more likely to lose things and may have trouble retracing their steps to find them. This sometimes progresses to feelings of paranoia or accusations of theft when the patient cannot find something they unknowingly misplaced. Patients may also start to have trouble with daily tasks such as driving, cooking, or engaging in hobbies. Changes in vision and depth perception may also lead to increased clumsiness, falls, and other accidents.
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Key Points About Early
Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.
It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.
Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.
Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Risk Factors To Consider
Although AD isnt an expected part of advancing age, youre at increased risk as you get older. More than 32 percent of people over age 85 have Alzheimers.
You may also have an increased risk of developing AD if a parent, sibling, or child has the disease. If more than one family member has AD, your risk increases.
The exact cause of early onset AD hasnt been fully determined. Many researchers believe that this disease develops as the result of multiple factors rather than one specific cause.
Researchers have discovered rare genes that may directly cause or contribute to AD. These genes may be carried from one generation to the next within a family. Carrying this gene can result in adults younger than age 65 developing symptoms much earlier than expected.
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Some Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Forgets the name of their child or a close friend. Asks the same question over and over. Doesnt recognize familiar places. Puts things in unusual places, such as keys in the fridge. Has trouble following a conversation. Calls familiar things by the wrong name. Loses track of dates and seasons. Forgets routine activities, such as paying monthly bills.
Decline In Physical Hygiene
Even if someone was strict about keeping up with good hygiene before, that may change once they begin to showcase signs of Alzheimer’s. Due to the changes in cognitive function that occur with this disease, things like taking baths or showers, changing clothes, and flossing become more difficult, says the Alzheimer’s Association. And for more ways to improve your personal well-being, check out the 100 Easy Ways to Be a Much Healthier Person, According to Science.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.
The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems.
For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.
As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- hallucinations; and delusions
- low mood;or anxiety
Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
How Is Alzheimers Diagnosed And Treated
Doctors may ask questions about health, conduct cognitive tests, and carry out standard medical tests to determine whether to diagnose a person with Alzheimers disease. If a doctor thinks a person may have Alzheimers, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further assessment. Specialists may conduct additional tests, such as brain scans or lab tests of spinal fluid, to help make a diagnosis. These tests measure signs of the disease, such as changes in brain size or levels of certain proteins.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are several medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that can help manage some symptoms of the disease along with coping strategies to manage behavioral symptoms. In 2021, FDA provided;accelerated approval;for a new medication, aducanumab, that targets the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimers. The new medication helps to reduce amyloid deposits, but has not yet been shown to affect clinical symptoms or outcomes, such as progression of cognitive decline or dementia.
Most medicines work best for people in the early or middle stages of Alzheimers.;Researchers are exploring;other drug therapies and nondrug interventions;to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia ;Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
Stages And Symptoms Of Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease usually progresses gradually, lasting two to 20 years, with an average of seven years in the United States.;Scientists now know that Alzheimers disease exists in a persons body long before symptoms appear. Researchers call this the pre-clinical/pre-symptomatic stage. Once symptoms do appear, they increase in severity as a person with Alzheimers moves from the earliest to the final stages of the disease.
The stages of clinical diagnosis and their symptoms include:
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Needing Constant Memory Aids
When your memory is in good working order, you can recall most things without always having to write them down or be reminded. However, those in the throes of early Alzheimer’s become more dependent on memory aids, like reminder notes, and often need their friends and family members to help them out. If you can’t so much as remember to pick your friend up at the airport without an alert on your phone telling you to do so, it might be time to see the doctor.
What Is Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age but are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. A doctor can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if a person has MCI. People with MCI are at a greater risk for developing Alzheimers disease, so its important to see a doctor or specialist regularly if you have this condition.
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Six Early Signs Of Alzheimers And Other Dementia
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Did you know that 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia? Alzheimers disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Its the most common form of dementia and can develop from multiple factors, such as age, genetics, lifestyle and environment.
There are signs and symptoms that may be indicative of Alzheimers or otherdementia. When detected early, treatments can be explored that may provide some relief of symptoms and help individuals maintain a level of independence longer. Early detection can also increase the chances of participation in clinical drug trials that help advance research.
If you notice any of the following warning signs in your aging parents, family members or friends, be sure to talk with them about what theyve been experiencing, and schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
“Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can improve the quality of care and quality of life for your loved oneand that begins with getting educated about the disease.” Kristina Fransel, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter
Not Being Able To Follow Recipes
Something as minor as whipping up a home-cooked meal can be a struggle for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If someone loses their ability to follow a recipeespecially one they’ve made a thousand timesthat might be an indication of the cognitive changes that commonly occur in the early stages of the disease.
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Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline
Your loved one might start to lose track of where they are and what time it is. They might have trouble remembering their address, phone number, or where they went to school. They could get confused about what kind of clothes to wear for the day or season.
You can help by laying out their clothing in the morning. It can help them dress by themselves and keep a sense of independence.
If they repeat the same question, answer with an even, reassuring voice. They might be asking the question less to get an answer and more to just know you’re there.
Even if your loved one can’t remember facts and details, they might still be able to tell a story. Invite them to use their imagination at those times.
Diminished Sense Of Smell
You used to be able to smell those fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies immediately, and now you hardly notice them. According to the National Institute on Aging, losing your sense of smell can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s, so it’s crucial to bring it up to your doctor if you notice any changes. Loss of smell and taste is also a symptom of coronavirus. And for more concerning COVID-19 signs, check out 13 Coronavirus Symptoms That Are More Common Than a Sore Throat.
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