How often have you misplaced your keys this week? How many times have you forgotten why you walked into a particular room in your house, only to re-trace your steps and recall why you went there in the first place? Here is a good one…have you been at the grocery store or other public place and run into your neighbor (one who’s lived in your neighborhood for years) and you cannot remember her name?
Believe it or not, these are all normal, age-related memory lapses. In fact, we have been doing these things since we were young, but now, as we age, we pay more attention to them and can even feel scared or anxious when they occur.
There is a difference in normal age-related memory lapses and signs of Alzhemier’s disease.
It is important to recognize that Alzheimer’s is more than just memory. Because it is a progressive, degenerative disease, many different parts of the brain are impacted (not just the memory banks). If one is concerned, the following 10 warning signs can be of help. If one has two or more of the following signs, then it may be time for a visit to the doctor.
The Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s:
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood and personality.
Age is the single biggest risk factor for getting this disease. In fact, one in nine people over the age of 65 have the disease and almost one-third of those 85 years of age and older have the illness. Nationally, there are more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s and is the sixth-leading cause of death. Women are also more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s.
According to the 2013 Alzheimer’s disease Facts and Figures study, last year Americans provided 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
UT San Diego