The Signs and Symptoms You Should NOT Overlook
Take Note of Changes in Driving, Social Habits, and Money
Often we get asked, “When is it the right time to go to the doctor?”, and “Could it just be old age?”, and “He seems more forgetful, but I am sure it is nothing… right?”
And our answer is always, get it checked out by a medical professional. First and foremost do not ignore a change in memory, cognition, judgment, communication abilities and recall. These symptoms are hallmark of early warning signs of Alzheimer’s type dementia. These symptoms can also be a sign to you, the caregiver, that a loved one is battling other health complications that can be easily addressed. It is in everyone's best interest to get a full work up and begin to deduce the possibilities and take notice.
Additionally, there are some other changes that should be noted in your loved one, and not ignored.
Consider any changes in driving patterns, habits and abilities. If your loved one has gotten lost while driving in a familiar area, shown a withdrawal from driving because of the fear of getting lost or been a part of several small accidents while driving, then it is time to take notice.
If your loved one shows difficulty managing money, balancing a checkbook or has had negative consequences from a banking establishment (which are new to their standard behavior), then it is time to take notice. Often simple math, counting and arithmetic can stump a person in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. If you notice changes in money management or a pile up of overdraft notices from the bank, please stand up and take notice.
Become mindful of any changes in socialization that do not directly stem from physical injury. By this we mean, if your loved one begins to isolate from their favorite groups, events and outings without any predetermined reason, take notice.
Many times persons in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease will work tirelessly to hide the symptoms they themselves are aware of. This may be reflected in active withdrawal. Additionally troublesome memory and cognitive symptoms can creep up and ruin a perfectly normal event. If this has happened to your loved one while they were in public, they may choose to retreat and isolate so as to not experience the shame and embarrassment again. Do not ignore multiple withdrawals from friends and family.
And finally, take notice of comments that sound like dismissive excuses. Phrases like, “People just don’t drive safe anymore” or “The town is changing so quickly, no wonder I get lost,” or “I There is no reason for keeping track of my money, things are just so expensive these days,” or “I just don’t have time to manage my mail, I am so busy,” or “I don’t like that group of friends anymore,” or “I just don’t feel like going.”
These potential compensatory comments may be a way that your loved one is communicating that things are changing and they are very uncomfortable with their current situation. Remember to be in agreement with where they are emotionally, first and foremost. Consider how you would feel if your health changed who you thought you were, what you were capable of doing and the purpose you brought to the world. Be gentle, be kind, take perspective and take notice before you reply. The only appropriate response may be “This sounds scary and I want to be there to support you in any way I can.”
~ Written by: Cathy Braxton, Chief Education Officer
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