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Don’t forget the signs of Alzheimer’s

by KATHY HUBBARD Contributing Writer
| November 4, 2020 1:00 AM

Don’t we all know someone called Whatsisname? And aren’t most gadgets in the kitchen called Thingamabobs? And when I open the refrigerator for heaven knows what, aren’t I sure that heaven knows and it’s just me that doesn’t? Yes, it happens to all of us, but we all wonder if we have Alzheimer’s once in a while. Don’t we?

The following are 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s excerpted from the Alzheimer’s Association website. We must know them not only for ourselves but for our loved ones as well. They are:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. You forget recently learned information, or important dates or events, or repeatedly ask the same question because you can’t remember the answer.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. You see changes in your ability to develop or follow a plan, such as following the directions for a familiar recipe. Or you find it challenging to track monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or leisure. You may have trouble driving to a usual location, or managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a game.
  4. Confusion with time or place. You lose track of the date or which season it is. You may forget where you are or how you got there.
  5. Trouble understanding visual image and spatial relationships. Vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. You may have difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. Joining a conversation can be difficult. You may stop mid-sentence and have no idea how to continue, or you may repeat yourself. You may call things by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. You put something in an unusual place, like the newspaper in the refrigerator and the milk in the cupboard. You cannot retrace your steps.
  8. Decreased, or poor judgment. You may pay little attention to grooming or hygiene. You may make poor decisions regarding your money, for instance, giving large sums to telemarketers.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. You may lose interest in your favorite hobby or have trouble keeping up with your favorite sports team. You may avoid being social.
  10. Changes in mood and personality. You find yourself confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious. You are upset easily, particularly when you’re not in your comfort zone. Your sleeping habits change.

Other symptoms may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s. And be aware that these symptoms can be the warning signs of other conditions. So, the best thing to do is to consult your healthcare provider. Be sure to tell him or her about all of your concerns.

It’s time to see the medico if you experience depression, apathy, social withdrawal, mood swings, distrust in others, irritability and aggressiveness, changes in sleeping habits, wandering, loss of inhibitions, and delusions such as believing that something was stolen from you.

Write down your concerns as well as your questions. Take notes to your PCP that explains what changes are concerning to you, other factors that might be involved (i.e., family stress), whether or not someone has commented about your behavior, and how long and how often you notice these symptoms.

Make sure your healthcare team takes your concerns seriously, regardless of your age. And ask them to speak to you in plain language and explain the tests and what they hope to learn from them. The most important things you’ll need from your healthcare professionals are the tools to live with this disease. Ask them to partner with you to develop a plan for healthy living.

Alzheimer’s treatment plan will likely include several medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There are drugs to help maintain mental function and to manage behavior. These medications will make you feel more comfortable.

“Alzheimer’s research has developed to a point where scientists are exploring ways to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms, the National Institute on Aging says. “In ongoing clinical trials supported by NIA, scientists are developing and testing several possible interventions.”

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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Kathy Hubbard