Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
(Part two of this series will be posted on Jan. 8.)
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
What’s typical? Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
What’s typical? Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
What’s typical? Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
4. Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
What’s typical? Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.
What’s typical? Vision changes related to cataracts.
Content adapted from the Alzheimer’s Assocation, Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapter
Coming Jan. 26
Webinar: Early Recognition of Dementia
The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association are co-sponsoring the first of two webinars for physicians to promote improved levels of dementia recognition, screening, diagnosis, and service referral.
(The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™)
For more information about the program and to register, visit the MMS website.