Sponsored by: Morningside of Georgetown
SENIOR LIVING Q & A:
Q: If I’m forgetting things, does that mean I have Alzheimer’s or dementia?
We asked Anita Williams, Executive Director at Morningside of Georgetown, a Five Star Senior Living community, to answer this commonly asked question.
You walk into a room and can’t remember what you were doing. One day you put food away in the cabinet instead of the refrigerator. You keep misplacing your keys. Or maybe it’s harder to remember what you were talking about from one moment to the next. Is it Alzheimer’s or just a sign that you’re getting older?
The more we know about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the more that we worry whether these signs of aging have a deeper significance. Here are a few things to watch for when deciding if it’s time to consult your physician.
A: Common Signs of More Than “Just Aging”
A certain amount of memory loss is associated with normal aging. The time to be concerned is when it interferes with daily life. If accompanied by processing challenges and emotional changes, memory impairment may indicate a more serious concern.
Some of the warning signs include:
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Challenges with problem solving
- Emotional changes (increased irritability or moodiness)
- Behavioral changes
- Decreased attention to personal hygiene
- Not being able to focus on finding misplaced items
- Decreased appetite or forgetting to eat
These signs should be taken within the context of the individual’s own normal behavior and abilities. For example, forgetting a name but remembering it later is normal. If you have always had difficulty recalling names, being a little more forgetful is to be expected as you age. We have all misplaced things or found some tasks challenging. But when you see patterns developing, it may be time to consult with a medical professional.
Follow Up with a Health Care Professional
If you are concerned about memory loss or confusion, be sure to follow up with your health care professional. A clinical exam and medical history may indicate whether further assessment, testing, or scans are recommended. Certain health issues, including depression, vitamin deficiency, UTI, alcoholism, diabetes, and organ failure can contribute to confusion and memory impairment.
Your physician will evaluate your physical health and medical history, and decide whether further testing is indicated. A variety of cognitive tests, physical and neurologic examinations, and MRI or CT scan may be ordered to determine whether the cause is dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When the Diagnosis is Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia face a unique set of challenges – from connecting to the world around them, to living safely with impaired judgment. Fortunately, families today have more options than ever for their loved ones. Senior living communities offering specialized dementia care, such as Five Star Senior Living’s Bridge to Rediscovery™ neighborhoods, can help those with memory loss continue to live meaningful, rewarding lives for as long as possible. Visit an assisted living community near you to learn more.