In honor of National Alzheimer’s disease Awareness Month, know the 10 warning signs
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, an opportunity to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and potential warning signs to recognize in yourself or a loved one.
The Alzheimer’s Association suggests in addition to a new dessert recipe or family vacation photos, bring an important gift home this holiday season and become educated about the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Visiting with relatives over the holidays may raise questions about the physical and cognitive health of family members. Although some change in cognitive ability can occur with age, serious memory problems are not a part of normal aging. Recognizing the difference between normal aging and more serious problems can help you identify when it may be time for your relative to see a doctor,” said Laurel Waller, executive director, for the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter.
“The Alzheimer’s Association has seen a rise in calls to its 24-hour helpline, 800-272-3900, during and after the holiday season when people return home and visit with friends and family whom they may not see as frequently during the year. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages anyone to call the helpline if anyone has a question or doubt about the state of an aging family member or friend,” said Waller. “Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia is critically important for families for a number of reasons, including participating in clinical trials and planning for the future. Fewer than 45 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have an actual diagnosis, through community awareness we can change that number.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is hosting numerous free, open-to-the-public workshops throughout the state of West Virginia to encourage community members to learn the 10 warning signs, myths and facts about Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as how to obtain a diagnosis.
Businesses, community groups or churches can book a free, one-hour “Know the 10 Signs” community workshop by calling 800-272-3900 or email [email protected].
“Every individual may experience one or more of the 10 Warning Signs in different degrees, as explained in the chart below. The warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease can also be mimicked by other medical conditions, such as sleep apnea or vitamin deficiencies, so it is important that if you notice any of these warning signsm, please see a doctor,” Waller said.
Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s
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 one’s 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.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”). What’s typical: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. What’s typical: Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.
8. Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. What’s typical: Making a bad decision once in a while.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced. What’s typical: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
10. Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. What’s typical: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.
Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support services. Following are additional benefits to receiving a diagnosis as early as possible:
Benefits of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800-272-3900. Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health, as well as from family members and friends who may be concerned about a loved one and seeking resources.
Upcoming Free 1-Hour “Know the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s” Workshops
Nov. 5, 10:30 a.m. Alzheimer’s Association, 1601 2nd Ave., Charleston, WV
Nov. 6, 1 p.m. Blue Ridge Community & Technical College, 5550 Winchester Ave., Martinsburg, WV
Nov. 10, 3 p.m. – Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1710 23rd Street, Parkersburg, WV
Nov. 10, 10:30 a.m. – Community Action South Eastern WV, 600 Trent Street, Princeton, WV
Nov. 10, 6 p.m. – Bank of Romney Community Center, 165 East Main Street, Romney, WV
Nov. 12, 6 p.m.Blue Ridge Community & Technical College, 5550 Winchester Ave., Martinsburg, WV
Nov. 12, 3 p.m. – Edgewood Summit, 300 Baker Lane, Charleston, WV
Nov. 18, 1 p.m. – Bank of Romney Community Center, 165 East Main Street, Romney, WV
Nov. 18, 4 p.m. – Plateau Medical Center, 430 Main Street, Oak Hill, WV
Nov. 19, Noon – Alzheimer’s Association, 1299 Pineview Drive, Suite 3, Morgantown, WV
Nov. 23, 10:30 a.m. – Riverside Café, 751 Riverside Drive, Welch, WV
About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.