Do I have Alzheimer’s?
Have you ever lost your car keys or misplaced them at home and then asked yourself, “Am I losing it?”
There are many “normal” signs of aging that happen to all of us over time, but there are also abnormal symptoms that could signal Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are 10 warning signs of the disease:
- Gradual memory decline that can alter daily activities, such as forgetting the names of close relatives or operating simple appliances.
- Problem-solving tasks that were previously part of everyday life but are now challenging.
- Inability to complete a familiar task, such as picking out clothes to wear for the day.
- Confusion with time and place, including morning and evening. Changes in waking and sleeping cycles may complicate this.
- Trouble understanding space and visual relationships, such as “Is that person really on the television or in the room talking to me?” or “Is that person in the mirror myself or someone else?”
- Getting lost easily while driving or walking and not being able to find the right way.
- Inability to find the right words when talking, and difficulty carrying on a detailed conversation.
- Decreased judgment or poor decision-making caused by lack of problem-solving ability, such as not being able to make correct change or giving unusual amounts of money to people who ask for donations.
- Becoming continually more isolated from normal social situations.
- Changes in behavior or mood, including agitation, confusion and fear.
Today, more than 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and the numbers are growing. Researchers estimate that a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds.
If you think you or someone you know may have Alzheimer’s, the first thing to do is to learn more about the disease process. While Alzheimer’s proceeds gradually and can stretch over many years, it is also a terminal illness. Early diagnosis can improve the quality of life and allow for planning of future care needs. Talk to your doctor sooner than later.
About the Author
Sue Durkin, MSN, CCRN, CCNS, is an Advanced Practice Nurse and Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist for Geriatrics at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. Her experience includes more than 35 years in nursing in critical care, eduction, research and care for patients of all age groups. She received her master's degree in nursing from Northern Illinois University and baccalaureate in nursing from the University of Illinois. Sue is a member of the clinical team at Good Samaritan Hospital's Memory Assessment Center for cognitive disorders.