We all have lapses in memory and as we age, those times of forgetfulness seem to increase. We lose our car keys more often, maybe forget about important appointments or dates, or in the middle of a task we can’t recall what we were just thinking about.
At first we put the blame on lack of sleep, an increased amount of stress, or dividing our time among too many tasks. How do you know if it’s something more?
First of all, let’s address the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dementia is not a disease or an illness; it is a series of symptoms that one can experience such as memory loss, mood changes, or a lack of problem solving skills. Alzheimer’s is a disease that slowly destroys brain cells which causes dementia. While a person can have dementia and not Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s always has symptoms of dementia.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be in the early stages of dementia, here is a checklist of dementia symptoms to look for:
A loss of memory
Difficulty expressing oneself
Difficulty executing complex tasks
Struggles to plan and organize
A decrease in coordination and motor function
Experiencing times of disorientation and confusion
Changes in personality
Inability to reason
Paranoia or agitation
Dementia greatly impacts everyday acts like recalling recent events or recognizing family members or friends. It inhibits routine tasks such as balancing a checkbook or writing a letter.
Not every person experiences all of the symptoms, but if you suspect that dementia is affecting yourself or a loved one, you should contact your doctor immediately. There are a variety of options that can reverse dementia or at least address the symptoms to increase functionality of the brain.
If the diagnosis is Alzheimer's, the sooner you know, the better you can create the best plan for the patient and his or her family concerning future financial and medical decisions.