Fall River Jewish Home

Normal Aging or the Beginning of Alzheimer’s Disease?

We all forget things. Where we put the car keys, to stop for milk on the way home from work or where we left the grocery list. So how do you determine if your loved one’s memory problems are a typical part of the aging process or something more? There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help decide:

1.     When your family member forgets something – especially if it is new information – do they remember it later? Or is it gone for good? For people with Alzheimer’s disease, forgotten information is typically gone for good. It won’t even seem familiar to them if they hear it again.

2.     Does your loved one forget to do things or forget how to do things? This distinction can be an important one. Take paying bills as an example. Is your loved one forgetting to pay the electric and gas bill? Or have they forgotten how to write out their check to pay the bill? If their abstract thought process has become impaired, it could be a sign of something more.

3.     Forgetting how to get somewhere that is familiar is also a troubling sign. If your father has gone to the Jewish Community Center pool every Tuesday and Thursday morning for years, then one day suddenly has trouble finding it, that is something that needs to be shared with his physician.

4.     Is the person you care for having trouble with recent memory recall that even cues can’t help with? For example, you tell them to make sure to eat a banana with breakfast. When they forget and you remind them they were supposed to eat fruit, they still won’t remember it was a banana.

Hopefully these questions will help you decide if it is time to schedule a check-up with the family practice physician or not. If you are still in doubt, it is probably best to make the call just to be safe!

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