Annual Family Gatherings May Reveal Signs of Alzheimer’s
Like many others, my family did not put a name to the behaviors and symptoms that my mother was exhibiting. We recognized some changes, got frustrated by our mother’s actions, and talked about it during long distance phone conversations. Then we ignored those symptoms and wrote it off as her having an “off” day. Now, mom’s problems have come to the forefront because of our dad’s cancer treatments and his need for us to help with mom. Even though it’s so incredibly difficult to say, here it goes: Mom has Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is an insidious and sneaky disease, affecting each person differently. Symptoms may be present one day and gone the next, only to return with a vengeance a few days or even hours later. There are no absolutes, only predictions and estimates of what to expect along the disease timeline. It helps though, to be aware of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Here are five symptoms to watch for::
Memory loss that disrupts daily life. This is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially forgetting recently learned information. Someone with Alzheimer’s may repeatedly ask the same question, or may rely heavily on reminder notes to remember.
Challenges in planning or problem solving. Some people with Alzheimer’s may experience trouble with numbers and can’t pay the monthly bills or balance a checkbook. They may have trouble following a recipe or may take longer to do things than they did before.
Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure. Have you noticed your loved one having trouble driving to a familiar location, managing their job duties or remembering how to play a favorite board game? Someone with Alzheimer’s may have trouble with these tasks.
Confusion with time or place. People with Alzheimer’s lose track of dates, seasons and even the passage of time. They may forget where they are or how they got there. Telling someone with Alzheimer’s you will be at their house in fifteen minutes may seem like fifteen hours to them, or they may not remember at all.
New problems with words in speaking or writing. Someone with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue. They may struggle with vocabulary, trying to find the right word, or they may call things by the wrong name.
Right now, my mother is exhibiting all of these symptoms to some degree. The most troublesome symptom for her, and us, is her inability to communicate effectively. Mom has difficulty finding the right words, or telling a story, or having a conversation with her grandchildren. It’s heartbreaking to see her read the same chapters in a book, or forget a favorite recipe, but it’s much, much worse to see her fight the restraints that Alzheimer’s puts on her communication ability. I denied the symptoms for awhile, however now I, like my mom have to face them.
What coping strategies do you find helpful in dealing with these Alzheimer’s symptoms?
Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s. www.alz.org