Friday, July 19, 2019
The Washington Post recently ran an important article, ‘Well, that was a weird moment’ and other signs of dementia family members should watch for. With "[a]bout 5.8 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, said Heather Snyder, senior director for medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association. The number is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050. Approximately 16 million people are caregivers." So it is important to help caregivers understand what might be normal aging and what might be a red flag.
So what should family members look for? What is attributable to normal aging as opposed to cognitive decline associated with dementia?
It is common to misplace keys or eyeglasses or walk into a room with a task in mind and forget what that is. Those are often attributable to multitasking or stress and are considered part of normal aging.
Here are some things to look for:
• Notes with reminders about simple tasks.
• When neighbors or friends share concern.
• Bills not paid or overpaid.
Physical appearance — someone who was always put together suddenly wears wrinkled or dirty clothing.
• Weight changes.
• Driving issues: fender benders, parking in the wrong spot.
• Any behavior that is out of the ordinary.
• Picking up an object and using it inappropriately.
• Saying things that are inappropriate — “no filter.”
• Changes in speech, personality.
One expert describes what we are looking for like this: "take notice of what she calls “well, that was a weird moment.” For instance,[the expert] was assessing a woman and did not see any deficits — until the woman asked if she could make a phone call and picked up the television remote." The article stresses the importance of planning and being proactive. Read it, so next time you forget where you left your keys, you won't worry as much.