It seems like every time you read an article or watch the news the words ‘dementia’ and ‘alzheimer’s’ are being mentioned and it’s for good reason. The rate at which cognitive decline is occurring in elderly adults is staggering. According to a San Diego study done in 2016, in just 15 short years dementia-related diagnoses will increase by 51%. Here are some of the most common signs of cognitive impairment:
1. Memory loss. This is perhaps the most well-known and defining factor when people think of Alzheimer’s Disease. However, memory loss or confusion is a natural part of aging, so how do you know when it’s an indicator of something more serious? According to The Alzheimer’s Association memory loss becomes problematic when they are, “forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.”
2. Difficulty concentrating. This applies to anything that they were once able to do or a task they are familiar with (such as paying the bills or the rules to a favorite card game). This can affect almost every area of their lives, including cooking, driving, following a doctor’s care instructions, or interacting with family and friends.
3. Misplacing items. Someone with cognitive impairment may put items back in the wrong place (mail in the fridge or milk in the cabinet), or they may have difficulty remembering where they put a specific item (reading glasses or slippers). One woman told the story of how her mother thought people were coming in the house while she was sleeping and stealing things because she simply could not find certain items.
These are just a few of the signs of cognitive decline, and not surprisingly, these symptoms can make a person withdraw from social situations. It can also greatly affect their personality or make them anxious and depressed. If you notice these symptoms in a loved one, early diagnosis is key and there are medicinal treatments available to help people maintain their independence for as long as possible. Diet and exercise play a huge part in prevention of cognitive decline, so be sure to take care of your self now.
Check out this article for helping someone when they don’t want (or think they need) help.
These statements have not been evaluated by a medical professional and are strictly opinion. If you have questions regarding your health, always see your doctor.