As we watch ourselves or loved ones get older, a common question is “What behaviors are dementia symptoms compared to typical age related changes?”
DEMENTIA IMPACTS JUDGEMENT
When someone familiar to us begins to exhibit a pattern of poor judgment and decision-making that strikes us as different from what we have come to expect from them, that could be a symptom of dementia or the onset of Alzheimer’s. Most of us make the occasional bad decision. If you are not noticing a new pattern of what you view as poor judgment, that is most likely just normal behavior.
DEMENTIA IMPACTS FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Missing a monthly payment can happen to almost all of us over time. We need to pay attention when we are no longer able to manage our personal finances or our household budget. That is likely a dementia symptom. (This assumes that you were able to manage your own finances and household budget in the past. Some people just can’t, demented or not.)
MEMORY CHANGES MAY BE DEMENTIA SYMPTOMS
While memory may change as we get older, any memory loss that disrupts daily life is not normal. Those memory changes may be dementia symptoms and should be evaluated by trained medical professionals.
Momentarily forgetting which day it is happens to most of us, and can be viewed as normal. When we are confused as to which season it is or otherwise lose track of time and days, that is usually a symptom of dementia.
STRUGGLING WITH WORDS
Most of us have had the experience of momentarily have a word escape our memory as we are trying to express ourselves or have a conversation. That’s normal. But when someone who was previously easily conversant suddenly struggles to have a conversation, that is a dementia symptom.
PATTERN OF LOST ITEMS
Forgetting where we set something down or losing items from time to time is a normal human occurrence. When we are no longer able to retrace our steps to locate lost items, that is a dementia symptom.
DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Alzheimer’s is currently the 6thleading cause of death in America, and the only one of the top 10 causes that has no prevention, treatment to slow progression or a cure.
The Alzheimer’s Association publishes a list of 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease:
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
- Confusion with time or place.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities.
- Changes in mood or personality.