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Is memory loss due to aging or Alzheimer’s? 3 warning signs to keep an eye out for

It’s a normal sign of aging to forget appointments or make an occasional mistake when paying the bills, but difficulty with every day tasks could be a warning sign.
Credit: Getty

INDIANAPOLIS — This article is sponsored by American Senior Communities

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.8 million Americans over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia. Characterized by a loss in cognitive ability, memory loss, and confusion, Alzheimer’s is also the sixth-leading cause of death in America.

Recognizing the signs of Alzheimer’s is key to an early diagnosis and gaining early access to treatments that can improve the quality of life. With early intervention, those affected can take advantage of available treatments and can help make decisions about the future, including creating a long-term care plan, as well as legal and financial issues.

But while normal aging leads to changes in the brain, how can you tell if it’s Alzheimer’s or just the aging process itself? With information from The Alzheimer’s Association, we have identified common Alzheimer’s indications to help you assess a loved one’s condition. Here are three things to consider.

Disruptive Memory Loss

Some changes in how the brain works is common for aging individuals. Taking longer to learn new information, having changes with information recall, and filtering out distractions are all normal signs of aging.

However, when memory loss begins to disrupt everyday life, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. If the individual is experiencing any of the following, it may be a sign that it’s time to get help and consult with a doctor.

  • Repetitive questions and statements
  • Poor judgment and bad decisions
  • Wandering and getting lost
  • Inability to recognize family and friends
  • Difficulty recalling recent events, knowing the date, and remembering appointments
  • Items are often misplaced and found in unusual places
  • Inability to focus on the task at hand

Changes in Mood & Personality

While memory loss may be the most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, changes in mood and personality may also affect the individual. Increased irritability, anxiety, and depression are signs of early-stage Alzheimer’s and may become more prevalent as they progress into the mid-to-late stages. These symptoms sometimes also accompany an increased frequency in upset emotional expressions, and most will develop a distrust of others.

Common signs of personality and mood changes due to Alzheimer’s in the early-to-mid stages include:

  • Increased irritability, anxiety, and depression, restlessness
  • Social isolation and lack of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Failure to follow traditional rules of social interactions
  • Paranoia and delusional thinking
  • Is easily upset and anxious when outside of their comfort zone
  • Impulsive behavior, vulgar language
  • Moments of upset
  • Wandering and getting lost

Difficulty with Everyday Tasks

It’s a normal sign of aging to forget appointments, to make occasional mistakes when paying the bills, and it’s normal to need help with operating the TV, computer, or another digital gadget. However, having difficulty with everyday tasks could also be indicative of the early-to-mid stages of Alzheimer’s. The warning signs include:

  • Taking longer to complete once-simple tasks such as making a grocery list or following a recipe
  • Trouble concentrating, short attention span
  • Difficulty handling money, paying bills
  • Forgetting dates and events, names of household objects
  • Inability to organize thoughts, learn new things

How to Know When to Get Help 

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is no easy task. Caregivers often endure significant emotional, financial, and physical hardships. Many caregivers live with the person they are caring for, and often they are unpaid for their time and bear a great deal of the lifetime cost of Alzheimer’s care.

But not all families need to go through this alone. Quality of life can still be provided with treatment options that embrace both the person with Alzheimer’s and their family members.

As an example, American Senior Communities offers Memory Care for those in the early-to-mid and advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as Respite Care for those who need care on a short-term basis. Experts have found that a person-centered, wellness-based approach let’s those suffering to experience a greater sense of purpose, fulfillment, and well-being. 

To learn more about American Senior Communities, download the brochure, or visit ASCCare.com.