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Early Signs of Alzheimer’s: Do You Know Them?


 

By Harriet Hodgson

I was my mother’s family caregiver for nine years and it taught me a lot about memory disease. Over the years I watched my brilliant, funny, compassionate mother become a confused and combative person. Gradual as they were, the changes were still shocking, and many times I wanted to burst into tears. The first warning sign of memory disease happened when my mother called fromFloridato say she couldn’t find her car in a department store.

“They told me cars aren’t parked in the store, they are parked outside,” she said casually. Her statement shocked me so I was speechless for a moment.

“It’s time for you to move closer to family,” I replied. My husband and I hired a moving company, found a town home affiliated with a senior high-rise, and drove her fromFloridatoMinnesota. Mom was angry about the changes in her life. Her anger subsided when she saw the town home. She lived there for about a year and then I had to transfer her to a studio apartment in the high-rise.

Being my mother’s caregiver felt like an ongoing course in progressive dementia. As the years passed her symptoms increased. She lost the ability to manage a checkbook, remember names, solve problems, read (she thought letters were printed upside down), and recognize relatives. The dreaded day came when she no longer recognized me.

Do you think a family member or friend is developing Alzheimer’s? Your instincts may be right. Angela Lunde, a Mayo Clinic Education Research Coordinator, lists early signs in her article, “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.” These signs include memory loss that disrupts daily life, losing things, inability to plan or solve problems, reading difficulties, writing/speaking problems, personality changes, and withdrawl.

Reading this list is one thing; living it is another. One day Mom called to tell me someone had stolen her black boots. “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” I said. When I entered her apartment the boots were by the door, right next to some black shoes. Obviously my mother couldn’t differentiate between boots and shoes. She didn’t say a word when I pointed to the boots and said, “There they are.”

The best list of signs I have seen is on the Alzheimer’s Association website and it is titled, “10 Signs of Alzheimer’s.” According to the article, “People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation.” They also struggle to retrieve words and may call things by the wrong names. Most helpful is the comparison chart of Alzheimer’s signs and age-related changes. For example, the person with early Alzheimer’s may have poor judgment and decision-making skills, whereas the aging person may make a bad decision once in a while. This is a huge contrast.

If you are concerned about a family member or friend, observe them closely. Keep a written list of your observations. I did this and it helped my mother’s doctor to help her. Your concern is an act of love, a gift you can continue to give despite dementia.

Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson

http://www.harriethodgson.com

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 35+ years and is the author of 30 published books, including “Alzheimer’s, Finding the Words: A Communication Guide for those Who Care” and “The Alzheimer’s Caregiver: Dealing with the Realities of Dementia.” Please visit Hodgson’s website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Harriet_Hodgson

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