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National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: Know the Signs and Symptoms

We went pink in October to promote awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In November, we need to change that color to purple. It is the color of choice for National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month! Last year, we wrote an article about spreading awareness. This year we want to help you recognize the signs and symptoms of the disease. It’s important to note, however that it’s nearly impossible to diagnose the disease without seeing your doctor. If your loved one is experiencing any of the signs and symptoms below, it does not necessarily mean they have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It just means they should get checked out.

  1. Memory Loss
    It’s one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s also pretty common for those who don’t have Alzheimer’s disease. We all walk into a room and occasionally forget why went there. That’s technically not memory loss. What we’re talking about here is the kind of memory loss that disrupts daily life. If your parent or loved one is forgetting important dates or asking for the same information over and over again, then there might be cause for alarm. Forgetting what they were looking for in the fridge is not the same thing as forgetting a loved one’s birthday or even their name.
  2. Completing Familiar Tasks
    This is similar to symptom number two. Putting together IKEA furniture is tricky. However, remembering the rules to your favorite game or cooking an extremely familiar recipe should not be a difficult task. If you notice a loved one having difficulty preparing an old family recipe or even paying their bills on time, it may be time that they see their doctor.
  3. Confusing Time and Dates
    It’s okay to think it’s Thursday when it’s actually Friday. That’s quite common. What’s not okay is if your parent or loved one thinks it’s 2006 when it’s 2016. Confusing dates and years is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s possible for your loved one to forget where they are on the timeline. They may also get confused when it comes to time of day. They may think it’s the morning when it’s the evening or vice versa.
  4. Unable to Join in or Continue Conversation
    Alzheimer’s disease affects connections in the brain, so holding a conversation can be very difficult. One minute your loved one may be speaking perfectly fine and the next they’re struggling to figure out what they were saying previously. This may also be a symptom of Aphasia, however. A disorder that affects the brain as well, but can get better over time, unlike Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, if your parent or loved one is experiencing symptoms such as the ones stated above, make sure they see a doctor. He or she will be able to determine the problem and develop a plan from there.
  5. Misplacing Items
    A person who does not have Alzheimer’s disease will misplace an item from time to time. We all lose things. However, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will, not JUST misplace an item, but leave that item in an unusual place. Missing keys may be found in the refrigerator or the milk may be found in the cupboards. If you notice a parent or loved one who is misplacing items in random locations, they may need to see their doctor.

Know the Signs and Then Take Action
We want to reiterate that you alone cannot diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. It takes the work of medical professionals to perform numerous tests and procedures to determine if something, if anything, is wrong with your loved one. However, that does not mean you should ignore issues when they arise. If you notice a loved one experiencing any of the symptoms above, schedule a doctor’s appointment for them. That way, you can celebrate National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month the right way!

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