- Memory changes that disrupt daily life.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems.
Second Warning Sign
This series of posts about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s Disease is based on an article by the Alzheimer’s Association. The article defines the second warning sign this way:
“Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.”
Some of you might be thinking Oh no!! I left the pinch of salt out of the zucchini bread last week or I chased that $2 error around my checkbook for a week before I found it. That’s not the kind of challenges we’re talking about. Those problems can be chalked up to normal aging or absent-mindedness. Mom exhibited challenges to be concerned about not long after I recognized the looping conversations I mentioned in Part 1.
Mom was an excellent cook but a nervous hostess. She worried about everything from planning the menu to clearing the table. Everything she made was delicious, but when Alzheimer’s intruded into her kitchen, I noticed lapses: her dump cake had spots of dry cake mix that had been missed by the butter; her pecan pie, which was usually to die for, stuck to the pan; her roast was dry and tough. Later she had trouble getting a meal on the table at all. Many evenings, after seeing her confusion and frustration, I stepped in to apply the finishing touches and bring order to the chaos. She finally gave up altogether.
“We can have Christmas at my house if you’ll do the cooking,” she said.
She used her arthritic hands as an excuse, but we both knew there was more to the challenge than twisted fingers.
Dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia, but he exhibited some of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the financial area. Dad was once a bookkeeper, and I’m sure he did an excellent job because he kept meticulous records of his own finances. But as the plaque built up in his blood vessels, this changed. When I visited them, I saw piles of unpaid bills, unbalanced statements, and unfiled paperwork. And when they moved in with me, I watched him stare blankly at a bank statement for an hour before giving up and putting it down.
He didn’t give up control of his finances as easily as Mom gave up control of her kitchen. I gradually assumed management of his checkbook, at first tactfully asking if he would like me to write a check for his signature or pay a bill for him. After a while, I stopped showing him the bills at all. Instead, I paid them on-line and entered the transaction into his checkbook. At first he asked questions, but eventually, he gave up the challenge and left it completely to me. We were one step further along in our journey into Alzheimer’s Disease.
Why Warning Signs Matter
There is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, but early intervention and treatment can slow the disease and increase your loved one’s quality of life. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 800.272.3900 or www.alz.org.