Senior Signs and Warnings: Am I Getting Alzheimer’s?

Sep 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Much is made over the onset warnings of Alzheimer’s.  Rightly so.  It is a scary disease which robs an individual and family of a human being, seemingly being transmuted into a robot.  There are signs which suggest either dementia or Alzheimer’s.  The two are not the same.  Dementia is forgetfulness and loss of memory, put simply.  Alzheimer’s is losing cognitive ability, as well as memory,  and the ability to perform routine chores that once came easily.  The greater the loss of memory in either case, the more difficult for patient and family to deal with all the attendant implications. 

The most frightening piece of Alzheimer’s is when the loved one loses any recognition of dear loved ones.  Then the slippery slope of managing a person whose physical acumen may be excellent begins to become more and more distressing and difficult.

The signs and warnings are many.  Classic dynamics are opening the refrigerator to find misplaced car keys.  Going out the door for a walk and being later brought home by the police or a friend from a considerable distance. Awakening during the night and wandering almost spell bound until you are found in the garage or in the backyard, not having a clue why.

Evidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s spells the quick need for an evaluation by competent medical professionals. “Oh, he will get better” is a classic wait and see practice that is most often detoured and disappointing. The case of a member of a family who shows signs of either of these debilitating phenomena requires some precipitous action and awareness. 

Do not make light of comments or perceptions that may seem way off.  In other words, do not try to correct perceptions.  That will simply lead to more and greater frustration.  Do not correct memory excursions in which one or another of you differs on dates, details, etc.  It really doesn’t matter who is right.  It matters that he/she is still struggling to be a part of conversation and interaction.  Do not lock Grampa in a  separate room away from others.  Allow him and his idiosyncratic behavior to continue to be a part of the group.  Soon enough dealing with possible placement in a Memory Center or other facility will  be required.

In the meantime, begin doing homework on the issues that will likely occur requiring attention and sensitivity.  Research facilities that may be required for occupancy at some point.  Be aware of the landscape of  helping agencies, organizations and other groups which may prove helpful.  Sign up for your own self-help support group.  Discover that you are not the only one dealing with the loss of a dear saint. 

Ifr you begin at some life point to recognize you have symptoms that may raise the question, posed in the title, then all your previous steps will be helpful in your coping with what may be coming.

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  1. Very good article! Support groups offer comfort, strength and hope for families of persons with Alzheimer’s. They provide an opportunity to talk with others who are going through similar situations. For persons looking for support groups, you can contact your local hospital or nursing homes, or you can visit the website of the American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse at There you can search on “Alzheimer’s” and find national self-help organizations and/or local self-help group Clearinghouses.

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