- 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
An article published by the Alzheimer’s Association about warning signs of Alzheimer’s states that the fifth sign is not related to vision changes caused by cataracts.
This warning sign may be a little harder to observe than some of the others. The evidence that someone is having trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships is not always as obvious as forgetting the name of a family member or thinking the year is 1985.
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast which may cause problems with driving.
Mom always loved to read. Between my 2nd and 3rd grade years, before she went to work outside the home, she and my brother and I walked to the library once a week to load up on books to carry us through the hot Texas summer. After she took a job, she didn’t read as much. She was too tired when she got home to do anything but eat dinner and get ready for the next day. But after she retired, the library once again became one of her favorite go-to places.
By the time she and Dad moved in with me, choosing a book was becoming a difficult decision, but she loved the books I chose for her. She read a lot and so quickly that I had trouble keeping up with the demand. But after a year or so, she began to slow down a bit. I noticed that she had several books on her coffee table, all with envelopes, bits of paper, or paper clips marking her place. She picked up a book at random and began reading, sometimes at the marked spot, but often on a random page earlier or later in the book. Instead of asking for more books long before the due dates, more often than not the books remained unfinished.
“Mom, do you want me to re-check these so you can finish them?”
“No, that’s okay. Go ahead and return them.”
Eventually, the books stayed on the table for three weeks, untouched, while Mom stared at quiz shows and Dr. Phil or dozed on the couch with Dad.
She also developed problems with perception when it came to walking. At home, she stopped when she came to a doorway where the flooring changed from carpet to tile. After checking it out closely, she raised her foot high as if taking a step up or leaned slightly as if stepping down. She did the same thing when passing from areas of light to areas of shadow. She also had trouble with the stripes in parking lots. I sometimes had to link arms with her and encourage her to step over what apparently appeared to her as a ridge or a ditch.
Why Warning Signs Matter
Unfortunately there is no way to correct perceptual changes caused by Alzheimer’s, but by understanding what might be going on, a caregiver is better equipped to deal with erratic behavioral changes. 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
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 3 of 10
Read Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 4 of 10