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As we get older, our mind tends to slip from time to time. Maybe forgetting a name or an appointment…it happens. But what exactly differentiates the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia from normal aging? No need to get nervous just yet, thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association - they have compiled a list of these 10 warning signs, plus advice on how to tell the Alzheimer’s signs from common age-related changes in memory.
1. Life-Disrupting Memory Changes: Forgetting important dates or an important event. Asking the same question or for information over and over again, or relying more on little reminder notes than actual memory.
Normal Aging Signs: Sometimes forgetting a name or forgetting an important appointment, but always remembering them later on.
2. Planning or Problem Solving Challenges: The ability to work with numbers has changed, following a recipe or keeping track of bills and their due dates have become an issue.
Normal Aging Signs: Occasional mistakes while balancing your check book.
3. Difficulty with Familiar Tasks: Forgetting the rules to your favorite game, getting lost while driving somewhere that was once familiar or managing a budget for work or home.
Normal Aging Signs: Needing someone’s help to record your favorite TV show or need help figuring out the settings on your new high tech microwave.
4. Confusion with the Time or Place: Losing track of dates or even the seasons. Forgetting where you are or even how you got there.
Normal Aging Signs: Confusing what day of the week it is, but always figuring it out later.
5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images: Experiencing difficulty when reading, determining colors, and judging distances.
Normal Aging Signs: Vision changes from aging or cataracts.
6. Problems with Speaking or Writing Words: Trouble following a conversation or even joining in; as well as constantly repeating one’s self.
Normal Aging Signs: Sometimes having difficulty finding the right work during conversation.
7. Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability To Find It: Putting your keys or other important objects in unusual places, constantly losing things and accusing other people of stealing them.
Normal Aging Signs: Misplacing things, but still being able to retrace your steps to find them.
8. Decreased or Poor Judgment: Being too careless with money, paying less attention to grooming and your appearance.
Normal Aging Signs: Making a bad decision every once in a while.
9. Withdrawing From Work or Social Activities: Becoming less and less interested in social interactions, and/or not noticing when one has become withdrawn.
Normal Aging Signs: Sometimes feel indifferent of work, family and social obligations.
10. Severe Changes in Mood or Personality: Becoming confused, depressed, fearful, anxious or even suspicious of those around you.
Normal Aging Signs: Having a routine and having specific ways of doing things and becoming very irritable when that routine is disrupted.
Before you start to panic about your state of mind, read over these warnings signs and evaluate your current situation. To avoid dementia, there are things you can do to help keep your mind active! Try taking classes at your local university, get a part time job, or even volunteer! There are also many games and personal activities that promote cognitive activity – like crossword puzzles, Scrabble and Sudoku. Just remember, it is just as important to exercise your mind as it is your body. Start today!