Memory loss can be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s – a brain disease that causes a decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.  There are oftentimes warning signs and symptoms, ten of which are discussed in this article.  Every individual experiencing one or more of these signs should be encouraged to see a doctor as early detection can allow individuals to best deal with the disease.

  1. Memory Changes that Affects Daily Living

One of the most common sign of dementia is memory loss.  This can be short term memory loss, such as forgetting things recently learned, or more long term memory loss, such as forgetting important dates or events.  Individuals with dementia may find themselves repeatedly asking for the same information and relying heavily on memory aids (reminder notes etc.) or family members to manage things they used to be able to handle on their own.

A normal age-related change in memory would be to sometimes forget names, appointments or other information, but remember them later on.  Memory issues beyond this could be a sign of dementia.

  1. Challenges in Making Plans or Solving Problems

While it is normal to occasionally make errors while planning or problem solving, some people with dementia may notice changes in their ability to develop or follow a plan or work with numbers.  Examples may be: trouble following a familiar recipe, or difficulty balancing a checkbook.   Individuals with dementia may also find it hard to concentrate and spend long periods of time doing any single activity.

  1. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

Individuals with dementia oftentimes have difficulty completing daily tasks – either at home, at work, or at leisure.  While it is common to need help with new technology, it is a warning sign of dementia to have trouble driving to a familiar location, or remember the rules of a favorite card game.

  1. Confusion with Time or Place

In older age, particularly after retirement, it may not be uncommon to get a little confused about what day of the week it is, and figure it out later.  However, people with dementia can lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time.  They may even forget where they are or how they got there.

  1. Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some, having vision problems may be a sign of dementia.  Difficulty reading and judging distance (if not due to cataracts) could be a sign of dementia, and cause problems with driving.

  1. Problems with Words

Individuals with dementia may find themselves stopping in the middle of a conversation, unable to continue or think of the word they want to use.  They may repeat themselves and struggle with vocabulary.  Occasionally having trouble to find the right word should not cause alarm, but if this happening more frequently it could be a sign of dementia.

  1. Misplacing Things and Not Being Able to Retrace Steps

We all misplace things from time to time, but are often able to retrace our steps to at least try to find the misplaced item.  People with dementia may put things in unusual places, and may also not be able to retrace their steps to find them.

  1. Decreased Judgment

While is not atypical to make an occasional bad decision or judgment call, persons with dementia may experience more sweeping changes in judgment or decision-making.  This could affect money-decisions and increase the risk for financial exploitation or being taken advantage of.

  1. Withdrawing from Work or Social Activities

An individual with dementia may start to remove themselves from their hobbies and social activities.  This could be due to other changes they are experiencing which may cause them to struggle to keep up with their hobby, or feel embarrassed or nervous to interact with others.

  1. Change in Mood or Personality

Last, the mood and personality of people with dementia can change.  The can become confused, suspicious, fearful, anxious or depressed.  They may become easily upset in various situations.

With early detection, individuals suffering from dementia can get the maximum benefit of available treatments.  For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association website: http://www.alz.org/

It is also important to make certain to complete all estate planning documents earlier rather than later, as legal documents may only be signed by an individual with capacity, as defined by Minnesota Statute.  Alzheimers and other dementias can affect capacity – which in turn affects that individual’s ability to sign and agree to legal documents, including an estate plan.  If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzhiemers or dementia and have not yet completed your estate plan, contact Schromen Law, LLC immediately for a free consult.

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