- 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.
Have you ever needed help – probably from a 10 year old – recording a television show or using your new microwave/convection oven? Have you ever made a wrong turn when trying to get somewhere you’ve never been? If so, don’t worry. That kind of difficulty is not a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.
Third Warning Sign
The third warning sign of Alzheimer’s Disease according to an article on the Alzheimer’s Association website involves more serious problems: “difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.”
“People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.”
Dad never owned a GPS, but he was good with a map and could find his way anywhere. But after his dementia asserted itself, he had trouble navigating even the most familiar territory. A few months before we moved from Texas to Florida, he and Mom moved in with us, and even though he had lived within two miles of our house for 20 years, he couldn’t find his way around from his new location. One day he wanted to go to the bank, but he couldn’t find it, so he gave up and came home. And once he really got lost. He left around noon to take Mom to the beauty salon, and I didn’t hear from him for nine hours. He had no cell phone, and I was frantic, wondering how long I should wait before calling the police.
When we got to Florida, he got his license much too easily for a man who had trouble walking, signing his name, and finding his identification. He got lost the one time he tried to use it, driving in circles through our subdivision for an hour before returning home in defeat. Shortly after that, I confiscated his keys.
Mom gave up driving without objection when her neurologist told her that her deteriorating reflexes made it unsafe for her to drive. Her difficulty with completing familiar tasks showed up in her daily game of Solitaire. She read somewhere that playing games was good mental exercise for the elderly, so she developed the habit of playing Solitaire after lunch. As her Alzheimer’s progressed, she created a unique set of rules. She moved cards from one stack to another in a random manner that apparently made sense to her, but she continued to enjoy herself for a while. After we moved to Florida and developed new routines, her cards stayed in the box, and if I suggested she play, she was totally confused.
Why Warning Signs Matter
For those of us who are getting older than we care to admit, it helps to know that the small mental lapses we’re experiencing are typical age-related changes. On the other hand, while there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, 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.
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 1 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 2 of 10