As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to brain health.
Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. It’s normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.
Memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. People with one or more of these 10 warning signs should see a doctor to find the cause. Early diagnosis gives them a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life: forgetting events, repeating yourself or frequently relying on more aids to help you remember (like sticky notes or reminders).
- Challenges in planning or solving problems: having trouble paying bills or cooking recipes you have used for years.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure: having problems with cooking, driving places, using a cell phone, or shopping.
- Confusion with time or place: having trouble understanding an event that is happening later or losing track of dates.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations: having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often.
- New problems with words in speaking or writing: having trouble following or joining a conversation or struggling to find a word you are looking for (saying “that thing on your wrist that tells time” instead of “watch”).
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps: placing car keys in the washer or dryer or not being able to retrace steps to find something.
- Decreased or poor judgment: being a victim of a scam, not managing money well, paying less attention to hygiene, or having trouble taking care of a pet.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities: not wanting to go to church or other activities as you usually do, not being able to follow football games or keep up with what’s happening.
- Changes in mood and personality: getting easily upset in common situations or being fearful or suspicious.
It's important to remember that these signs and symptoms can be caused by factors other than Alzheimer's disease. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
The skilled physicians at Lexington Neurology specialize in the evaluation and treatment of neurologic and cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.
Lexington Medical Center's Carroll Campbell Place provides first-class residential care for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.