Sometimes it’s not just “old age.” Learn the signs of Alzheimer’s and protect your loved ones
Is today Monday or Tuesday? If you’re retired and sometimes can’t remember, should you worry that you might have Alzheimer’s? Probably not, says OhioHealth neurologist Geoff Eubank, M.D.
“With normal aging it’s common to forget sometimes, like someone’s name when you meet them or what you went to the store for,” Eubank says. “But dementia starts to impair your ability to handle your own life. When people have dementia they’re usually not aware of it.”
That’s why if a family member brings a patient to Eubank and worries that the person might have Alzheimer’s, he worries too. “If you’re bringing yourself in for memory loss, you probably don’t have dementia,” he says.
Alzheimer’s and other dementias are diseases of the brain that slow your thinking and reduce your ability to reason and remember.
Not everything that causes memory loss is dementia; sometimes medications and other health conditions cause temporary memory loss. That’s why it’s important to visit a doctor if you or a loved one is concerned, he says.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but medications can slow it for a short time, Eubank says. Physical activity; social interaction; a healthy, plant-based diet; and mental stimulation can also reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s, he says. And although there’s no definitive treatment now, Eubank says more resources are on the horizon — so staving off the disease as long as possible is important.
Alzheimer’s Signs and Symptoms
The Alzheimer’s Association gives these warning signs to be on the lookout for:
- An inability to complete familiar tasks such as reading a recipe, driving to a friend’s house or dialing a phone.
- Confusing the past with the present.
- Being unable to follow a conversation, having trouble finding familiar vocabulary or repeating yourself.
- Placing objects in places where they don’t belong, such as putting car keys in the refrigerator, and being unable to find them.
- Shying away from activities you used to enjoy, such as reading, playing cards, watching sports or gardening.
- Forgetting important dates, locations and people.
Taking care of a loved one with a disease like Alzheimer’s is its own tough job. We have some tips to help you focus on your own health here.