(FOX Providence) - As your loved ones grow old it's important to be aware of Alzheimer's and additional memory loss. And although it may be a difficult subject, it's important to be prepared.
"The first sign is forgetfulness, but on a daily basis, beyond just forgetting where you place your keys and not being able to retrace the steps of what you've done before you've lost your keys. That's one of the key elements to really diagnosing the memory loss," said Jodi Simone, Life Enrichment Director at Albion Court .
Once symptoms are recognized it may be time for memory screenings from your doctor. Familiarizing elders with simple life skill tasks can also be beneficial.
"Something that she's done for 80 years, washing the silverware, folding the linen. So as she's doing this task, that time and trigger will pass. And you want to always keep it light. You certainly don't want to add agitation. Never ask mom or dad 'why are you feeling like this?" said Jodi.
Not all individuals with memory loss are aware of how they are feeling. In order to cope with denial or frustration, it's best to work with others.
In addition to support groups and family involvement, there are other resources.
"Several assisted living communities have a respite program. Perhaps a family member may just need a little break, whether it's a weekend or just a night, or a long length of stay if they have a family occasion that they need to attend to out-of-state. There's also local day cares that specialize in dementia and memory loss programming."
If you have a loved one that suffering from memory loss it's helpful to keep a journal and meet with family members. Also, keep in mind that as the day goes on, not only does the body tire, but the mind does as well.
Alzheimer's Disease- A Quiet Crisis
By Nancy Nelson Jones
If you're over the age of 40, it's likely that you know someone who has a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. As our population grows older, more and more of us have loved ones affected by the disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association the number of Americans with Alzheimer's has doubled since 1980. That number will continue to increase and by 2050 it is estimated that up to 16 million individuals will suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Growing older increases the risk of developing the disease.
One in ten individuals over 65 and almost half of those over 85 has Alzheimer's.
Approximately 70% of these individuals will be cared for in their home or in the home of a family member with nearly three quarters of their care provided by family or friends. Providing this care takes a physical, emotional and financial toll on the caregivers. The financial impact of the disease reaches far beyond the individual's family. In a report commissioned by the Alzheimer's Association costs of over $61 Billion a year can be attributed to Alzheimer's.
There are some basic facts about Alzheimer's and dementia that are important for older adults and their families to know. The Alzheimer's Association website describes dementia as "a loss of mental function in two or more areas such as language, memory, visual and spatial abilities or judgment severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is not a disease, but a broader set of symptoms that accompany certain diseases or physical conditions."
Many of us with aging parents or family members watch with concern for signs of forgetfulness in our loved ones It is important to know that memory loss should not be considered a normal part of the aging process.. An older adult exhibiting memory loss should consult a physician immediately as there are many other conditions that can cause dementia. Some of these are reversible; so it is vital to seek treatment without delay. Reversible conditions causing dementia-like symptoms include severe dehydration or malnutrition, drug reactions, head injuries and thyroid problems. Depression or other emotional problems may also produce symptoms that can be mistaken for dementia.
In order to help older adults and their families recognize symptoms that may indicate Alzheimer's disease, the Alzheimer's Association has provided ten key warning signs on their website www.alz.org .
The following is a condensed version of these warning signs. Please visit the website for more comprehensive information.
1. Memory loss. One of the most common early signs is the loss of recent learned information While everyone forgets simple information from time to time, a person with dementia will do this more frequently.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. An individual with Alzheimer's may no longer be able to do simple tasks that were once very familiar.
3. Problems with language. An individual with dementia often forgets simple words. He or she might begin to substitute unusual words.
4. Disorientation to time and place. Alzheimer's may cause a person to become lost in very familiar settings.
5. Poor or decreased judgment. A person with dementia may wear inappropriate clothing or exhibit
a new irresponsibility with money.
6. Problems with abstract thinking. This may appear in the form of problems with numbers, balancing a checkbook for example.
7. Misplacing items. A person with Alzheimer's may "lose" things by putting them in unusual places.
8. Changes in mood or behavior. While everyone has mood changes from time to time, an individual with Alzheimer's may have sudden mood changes with no apparent reason.
9. Changes in personality. Alzheimer's disease may cause someone's personality to change dramatically. He or she may become anxious, suspicious or dependent on a family member.
10. Loss of initiative. A person with Alzheimer's may become very passive and lose the desire to do normal activities.
The Alzheimer's Association stresses that it is extremely important to see a physician if an older adult is showing some of these symptoms. A helpful website from the Department of Human Services Administration on Aging, the Alzheimer's Resource Room, provides a list to help older adults and their families talk with their doctor about possible causes for memory loss.
Included in the list are the following recommendations for the doctor's visit:
1. Take a comprehensive list of prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamin supplements, over the counter products, and topical products.
2. Provide the physician with information about recent weight loss or gain.
3. Inform the doctor about dehydration or malnutrition problems.
4. Let the doctor know if there has been a fall or a concussion recently.
5. Provide accurate information about alcohol use.
6. Let the doctor know about any depression or emotional problems.
For more complete information please see the website www.aoa.gov/alz/index.asp