• January 15, 2009 at 3:22 am

    How can one tell if it’s the beginning of Alzheimer’s or just a senior moment. My husband is not 71 yrs. He has episodes of not remembering the location of our favoirite wiine store, or something that we did in the past together. There are other things similar to this and I just let it go without correcting him, except when he can’t find some place, I do tell
    him to make a U turn and when he’s almost there he starts to remember where is located, i.e., the wine store.

    His Mom had Alzheimer’s, fully diagnosed when she was about 87 yrs old.
    But I can now look back and remember things like when we thought she was just trying to act like a dumb blonde. Forgetting the story accurately. Then she slipped into Sundowners and we knew it was full
    blown Alzheimers.

    One thing that scares me is he is a BIG guy, former football player. When Sundowners came on his Mom she got angry at first, saying he needed to get out of her house before her Dad came home. Then one night she was telling him to leave, which he didn’t and she got a kitchen knife and told him again to get out of her parents house.
    What scares me is that one big hit and I could be dead, if this ever happens.

    So how can I tell if it’s the beginning of Alzheimer’s or just s Senior Moment?

  • June 26, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Having spent some time with a dear family member with Alzheimer’s and some time some other dear family members who were getting on in years but did not have Alzheimer’s, and having been trained as a nurse, I know a little something about the difference.

    It’s normal to lose a bit of cognitive function and to have more trouble remembering as a person gets older, even without Alzheimer’s. Go to http://www.alz.org for precise details. But specific warning signs include memory changes that disrupt daily life, forgetting RECENTLY acquired info, asking the same question over and over and over; developing trouble handling daily chores that once were not problems, like paying bills or following a plan or balancing a checkbook, if they used to do so without trouble; difficulty remembering rules to a once familiar game or using a microwave or recording a TV show and inability to acquire these skills despite repeated patient instruction (yelling doesn’t count); confusion about time and place that can’t seem to be cleared up no matter how often someone repeats that the person is in such-and-such a town or that it’s, say, Monday, or, worse, 2009.

    What’s normal? Sometimes forgetting a name or an appointment or the way to some place but then remembering later. Making an occasional error when paying a bill or balancing the checkbook. Occasionally needing help setting the microwave for a function that isn’t used all the time, like defrost, or setting the clock on the VCR after the power goes out, or forgetting what day of the week it is but remembering later in the day when told in the morning.

    Some people with Alzheimer’s develop vision oddities, pass a mirror and think they see someone else in there, or think they see a face in the pattern of wood grain in a door or become unable to read due to visual distortions. “Normal” visual changes include cataracts or becoming far-sighted. Alzheimer’s may lead to an inability to carry on a normal conversation, substitution of an inappropriate word such as a “hand-clock” for a watch. Just being unable to think of the right word occasionally is normal.

    People with Alzheimer’s sometimes put things in odd places, say, putting dirty clothing in a bookshelf. Or, being unable to find something desired, they may accuse a loved one of stealing it, or make other odd errors of judgment. Making an occasional poor decision is only human or misplacing the car keys can be done by anybody.

    People with Alzheimer’s tend to give up hobbies, work, sports, and social activities, as their ability to think and interact as before diminish. Feeling tired of one activity and wanting to do something else is normal.

    Eventually, someone with Alzheimer’s may seem to become an entirely different person, becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, and anxious. They can be easily upset, and fail to recognize the closest family members. But anybody can become aggravated, given aggravating circumstances. And sometimes, given a wild change of hairstyle or of clothing, a familiar person can be different enough that anyone may fail to recognize a friend or family member under unusual circumstances.

    See http://www.alz.org/10signs or call 877-IS IT ALZ (877-474-8359) for more.