CHICAGO — The holiday season is a time families gather and spend quality time with loved ones. It is also a time that can raise questions about the cognitive health of aging family members.
With Alzheimer’s disease in particular, it is important to know what it is and that it is not normal aging. Below is a list of warning signs, along with examples of normal aging. If you notice any of the warning signs in your aging family members, it is recommended you see a doctor.
Warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
(Visit www.alz.org/10signs for more details.)
Benefits of a early diagnosis
1. Benefit from treatments that may improve symptoms and help maintain a level of independence longer
2. Have more time to plan for the future
3. Increase chances of successfully finding a clinical drug trial through Alzheimer’s Association’s TrialMatch, helping advance research
4. Participate in decisions about their care, transportation, living options, financial and legal matters
5. Develop a relationship with doctors and care partners
6. Benefit from care and support services, making it easier for them and their family to manage the disease
Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at (800) 272-3900. Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health as well as from family members and friends who may be concerned about a loved one and are seeking resources. More information is also available at www.alz.org/illinois.
From the Dec. 21-27, 2011, issue