The occasional memory lapse is common after the age of 50. Forgetting someone’s name or where you left your keys happens to everyone at some point. However, if these lapses happen frequently to you or to a loved one and interfere with daily functioning such as paying bills or planning and preparing meals, it may be time to see seek medical help.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, dementia is a general term for memory loss, difficulty problem-solving, and diminished cognitive skills that interfere with daily life. It is not a single disease but rather an umbrella term that encompasses a number of medical conditions. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for between 60% to 80% of dementia cases in America. Vascular dementia, characterized by bleeding and blocked blood vessels in the brain, is the second leading cause. Other, reversible conditions such as thyroid issues and vitamin deficiencies, can also trigger dementia symptoms.
It pays to be on the alert because early detection means early intervention, which can help the delay the progress of dementia. Even the noted expert Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” said he overlooked some of the signs of dementia in his own mother.
“When my mom started giving some of her belongings away to people she barely knew, I thought she was just trying to lighten her load after my father’s passing,” he said. It was only after his mother grew irrational, that Dr. Oz realized something was wrong. A doctor confirmed an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“I’m feeling guilty because I completely missed the signs until fairly late in the process,” he said.
Here are 6 warning signs of dementia you should not ignore:
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks. According to AARP, people with dementia may have a difficult time keeping track of bill paying or even following a recipe.
- Repeating oneself. Geriatric specialist Dr. Jason Karlawish, author of The Problem of Alzheimer’s: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It, says that repeating the same question every 15 minutes or so, or telling the same tale many times over, are causes for concern.
- Confusion with time or place. The Alzheimer’s Association says that a common sign of dementia is getting confused about what day of the week it is. People with dementia may lose track of time or forget where they are and how they got there.
- Vision problems. Very often, someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will have trouble understanding spatial relationships or visual images.
- Trouble finding their words either in speaking or writing. People with early onset Alzheimer’s disease may find following a conversation challenging. They may stop in the middle of a discussion and cannot complete their train of thought.
- Personality changes. According to AARP, if a loved one starts acting anxious, fearful, and loses interest in favorite activities this may be a red flag for dementia.
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