The feelings associated with these thoughts, while fleeting, can be troubling. As we age, we begin to think that these “senior moments” mean something more than just temporary forgetfulness and that dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is on the horizon.
Take a deep breath. Momentary forgetfulness does not necessarily mean that you are developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. In fact, it is completely normal to have occasional memory loss as we get older, including mild confusion, misplacing items and even making a bad decision once in a while.
But what if you or your loved one is experiencing extreme bouts of confusion that are affecting personality and decision-making abilities?
Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz recently wrote about “brain-draining health conditions” that look like Alzheimer’s but are in fact treatable and at times even reversible. Here are a few examples of conditions that can contribute to confusion:
• Vitamin deficiencies
• Normal pressure hydrocephalus, or NPH (an increase of fluids in the brain)
• Urinary tract infections
• Underactive thyroid
• Reaction to certain medications
Treating these conditions can usually allow individuals to revert back to their previous cognitive clarity. However, if symptoms still persist, one may need to look further.
The Alzheimer’s Association has boiled down its warning signs and symptoms for the early detection to the following:
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning and solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, don’t ignore them. As with most diseases, the earlier it’s detected, the better. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are a number of options and treatments that may help with its symptoms and challenges.
In the event that you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are resources available both locally and nationally. The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for individuals and their families. This organization provides information, adv-ice, support and educational programs and advocates for Alzheimer’s research, prevention and care initiatives.
Forgetting where you put your glasses or the name of a person you just met can be scary. But knowing the signs of Alzheimer’s disease will give you a head start toward diagnosis — or will provide the peace of mind that you’re just having a senior moment.
Shoshana Krupp is managing partner at Elite HomeCare Services. SCENEior focuses on the benefits and challenges of growing older.