Signs 1 through 10:
1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
4. Confusion with time or place.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
The last warning sign listed in an article on the Alzheimer’s Association website is changes in mood and personality. Typical aging may cause some of us to develop specific ways of doing things, and we sometimes become irritable when a routine is disrupted, but Alzheimer’s may cause people to carry this irritation to extremes.
The Warning Sign
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.
Dad’s personality didn’t change a whole lot with his dementia. He became a crabby, critical old man, but while he had always been a bit on the crabby side, he hid it better when he was younger and saner. People with dementia lose a lot of inhibitions, and although he was a man of few words, when he had something to say, he said it, regardless of where he was or who might hear. He always seemed to notice extra large people when they came into a restaurant where we were eating.
“She’s fat!” Since he was hard of hearing, he wasn’t very good at using his inside voice.
“Yes, Dad,” I’d say quietly as I slid down in my seat, “but she’s probably not deaf.”
Dad’s personality changes were embarrassing and annoying, but Mom’s were extremely disconcerting. She was always a little fearful, but she became the poster child for paranoia. She locked David out of the house when he went to pick her up for dinner one night, and she accused Dad of getting phone calls and having midnight trysts with a girl he hadn’t seen in 75 years. The neurologist concocted a medication regime that kept the worst of the delusions at bay, but she still had her moments. One afternoon I went to the grocery store and left David in charge. He was lying on the couch reading, and Mom and Dad didn’t see him when they came out of their room and headed for the front of the house. They peered out the dining room windows at the empty spot on the driveway where their car usually sat, and Mom started to complain.
“She’s gone off in our car again. She should be here fixing us something to eat instead of out running around. She treats us just awful. She’s probably out with some…MAN!!”
If Alzheimer’s has a bright side, it’s that sometimes bad things are forgotten. As Mom got worse, she forgot her fears and her accusations. Best of all, she forgot her social anxieties, and she became quite a party girl. She enjoyed going to church, and she loved parties. Her sweet smile and her giggle made her a favorite with everyone. When she passed away, the people who cared for her in the last months of her life sent a card filled with personal notes. Many of them mentioned her ready smile and her sweet spirit. It felt like, in some small way, she had thumbed her nose at Alzheimer’s in the end.
Why Warning Signs Matter
There is a note at the end of this last warning sign: Mood changes with age may also be a sign of some other condition. Consult a doctor if you are seeing any changes.
There is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, but an early diagnosis gives you a chance to seek treatment and plan for your future. Your local Alzheimer’s Association can help. Call them at 1-800-272-3900 or visit them at www.alz.org.
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 1 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 2 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 3 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 4 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 5 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 6 of 10
Read Warnings Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 7 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 8 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 9 of 10