Jennifer Baker is Carson City’s Wednesday Alzheimer’s Association representative, with an office in the Senior Center. She recently took time to discuss the “10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease.”
She pointed out the earlier the disease is detected, the better patients can deal with it, using medications and medical and medical help. While the term dementia covers many kinds of mental illness, it is an umbrella term and includes Alzheimer’s disease.
“Alzheimer’s is 70 percent of dementia cases, and there are 4 million dementia sufferers in the United States, Baker said during her spirited talk. She said one out or two Americans aged 65 will suffer some dementia, and those over 85 suffer a higher rate. Those with questions or needing help with AD may contact her at 775-883-003, ext. 223, on Wednesdays. Here’s a recap of what she said as possible signs of AD and how AD differs from normal, age-related mental changes.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Recently learned information is forgotten, missing dates or events and asking the same question over and over and using family members for things the patient used to do on his or her own.
A typical age-related change is sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later.
Challenges in planning or solving problems. This includes changes in ability to develop a plan or follow one or work with numbers, failure to keep track of regular bills.
A typical age-related change can be making occasional errors balancing a checkbook.
Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. Have troubled driving to a familiar location.
Age-related mental changes can include such as needing help with microwave settings or recording a TV show.
Confusion over time and place. People with AD can lose track of dates, seasons and passage of time. They have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they forget where they are and how they got there.
Age-related changes are getting confused about the day of the week but figure it out later.
Problems understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some people with AD, vision problems are a clue. They may have difficulty reading, judging distances and deterring colors or contrasts, which may cause driving problems.
Age-related vision changes can be related to the growth of cataracts.
New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with AD may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea of how to continue, They may repeat themselves, struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word, or call things by the wrong name.
Age-related change is sometimes finding the right word after losing it.
Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Those with AD may put things in unusual places and lose the ability to go back over their steps to find them. Sometimes they will accuse others of stolen them.
Age-related is misplacing things but having the ability to retrace and find the object.
Decreased or poor judgment. AD people may experience changes in judgment or decision making. They may use poor judgment in dealing with money, giving large sums to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming and cleanliness.
Age-related: Making a bad decision once in a while.
Withdrawal from work or social activities. AD persons may remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports.
Age-related: Sometimes weary of work or social obligations and family and they do the same.
Changes in mood and personality. Mood and personalities change. They can become depressed, confused, suspicious, fearful or anxious. They may become easily upset and irritable when they are out of their comfort zone.
Age-change: Developing specific ways of doing things.
Well, those or the 10 signs as listed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the normal changes brought on by age. Check with Jennifer at her Senior Center office with questions. She’s a fun lady and pleasant to talk with. Tell her I sent you.
If you want to join in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, there’s a Walk to End Alzheimer’s Saturday Sept. 27 starting at the Sparks Marina with check in at 8 a.m. and the walk starting at 9:30.
There’s no fee to register. Those who raise money with their walk will be able to win prizes. Contact the race people at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 786-8061. You can take part in the walk solo or with a team.
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.