Is Your Loved One Showing Early Signs of Dementia?

Published On: November 2, 2023

With 50 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, it’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs, especially if you suspect your parent may be affected. Statistics show that 1 in 8 Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Here are a few red flags to be aware of:

1. Difficulty with Short-Term Memory: 
Alzheimer’s can impact short-term memory early in the disease process. While occasional forgetfulness is common, a consistent pattern of forgetfulness, especially if the senior can’t recall items later, should raise concern. For example, forgetting a hair appointment but later remembering it may not be alarming, but if they have no recollection of making the appointment, it’s time to consult their primary care physician.

2. Misplacing Items Often: 
Pay attention to missing items found in unusual places.  Is your loved one putting car keys in the freezer or missing glasses that are later found in the oven?  If they are consistently misplacing items and storing them where they do not belong, this may be a red flag for dementia or an underlying infection such as a urinary tract infection.

3. Searching to Find the Right Words:
Seniors in the early stages of Alzheimer’s often struggle with maintaining conversations and using the right words. They may misidentify common objects, like calling a dog a squirrel or a television a stove. They might not even realize their mistakes, or they may create alternative phrases to compensate and cover up for their memory lapses.

4. Mishandling of Finances: 
Mismanaging finances is a hallmark of early Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors may forget to pay bills or pay them multiple times, make inappropriate loans, or excessively spend online or through a home shopping channel. They may forget how to count money when paying with cash.  This can lead to identity theft and other financial issues.

If you notice any of the warning signs during your holiday visit, it’s recommended to schedule a doctor’s appointment and seek the expertise of a neurologist.  Some symptoms may be reversible, such as those caused by a vitamin deficiency or an undiagnosed infection, so early intervention is crucial for a proper diagnosis and effective treatment.

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