6.Challenges in Problem-Solving and Planning
Maybe your memory seems fine to you, but balancing your checkbook and getting the bills paid on time has become much harder lately. Or you’ve always been a good cook, but the multiple steps in recipes don’t seem to make sense anymore. Even making coffee in the morning takes longer to figure out.
These activities involve executive functioning, an ability that typically declines in dementia. If you notice these changes in yourself or someone you love, contact your physician for an assessment.
- What it’s not: One or two mistakes in your math calculations.
7.Personality and Mood Changes
Has your normally easy-going father become irritable and fearful lately? Maybe he accused you of helping him clean his house just so you could take his money or steal his favorite treasures. Or, he had a catastrophic reaction when you drove him to the store and they had moved the bread to a different aisle.
If he’s always been temperamental or ornery, it’s unlikely that this is related to his cognitive functioning. However, a change over the last several months in his usual mood and behavior is a warning sign that his brain may be experiencing some changes, and he should be evaluated for dementia.
What it’s not: Becoming a little more “set in your ways” and disliking changes.
8.Misplacing Items Frequently
Know someone who struggles to keep track of things? In dementia, this is exponentially increased. Not only might things be misplaced, but the process of looking for the item by retracing her steps is much more difficult. The person with dementia may become frustrated because “someone” put her eye glasses in the freezer or “took” her purse. Not only can she not find her shoes, she has no recollection as to how they got in the oven.
What it’s not: Losing your keys and them later remembering you set them down on the piano to answer your phone.
9.Decline in Judgment
If you’ve noticed a pattern of poor judgment lately in your loved one, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a physician. Perhaps it’s repeatedly getting taken by phone scams and giving money away, or your normally neatly-groomed mother often looks disheveled and needs a shower. You might also notice that she is not appropriately dressed for the weather.
What it’s not: The occasional questionable decision with which a loved one disagrees.
10.Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks
Getting lost on your way home from the local grocery store, an inability to perform the job you’ve had for 20 years or difficulty making your signature grilled cheese are warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
It’s important to recognize that this isn’t referring to attempting to learn something new, such as a new computer system, but rather is a change in the ability to complete a task you’ve always been able to perform until now.
What it’s not: Difficulty in figuring out and using the new television remote control.