As baby boomers get older, researchers believe the number of people in this country living with some form of dementia will soar. By 2050, the number of seniors with Alzheimer’s alone may reach 13 million.
This is why it’s important for people to learn more about the red flags that indicate a person is struggling with a memory impairment. Here are a few signs of dementia to familiarize yourself with.
1. Personality change: The notion that people become grumpy as they age just isn’t true. A significant change in personality can actually be a sign that something is wrong. If a happy-go-lucky spouse or parent has become quick to anger or easily tearful, it’s a matter that should be discussed with them and possibly their physician.
2. Mistakes with money: A red flag that is easy to overlook is when a senior makes repeated mistakes managing finances. That can also include falling victim to a scam. Family members don’t always realize anything is wrong until it’s too late, and their loved one has lost money or had a utility turned off for nonpayment. Other financial-related warning signs include loaning money to strangers or relatively new “friends,” making purchases they can’t afford, or being unable to account for money. A person with dementia might neglect paying some bills, while paying others more than one time.
3. Problems writing: Another early warning sign of dementia is struggling to write. If you notice an older adult in your life is having difficulty writing out checks, creating a grocery list, or even signing a birthday card, it’s an issue that should be investigated further. A loss of abstract thought and problems with short-term memory make written communication tough for people with dementia.
4. Self-isolating: When an older adult starts to think something is wrong with their memory, they may be afraid to admit it even to themselves. They might drop out of favorite clubs, volunteer projects, and even skip religious services and family gatherings. Some do so because they are embarrassed not to be able to recognize the names of acquaintances or follow a conversation. Others are worried a close friend or loved one will detect a problem they aren’t yet ready to address.
5. Loss of empathy: If a senior who has always been kind and compassionate seems uninterested or less interested in the welfare of others, including loved ones, it might be a sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia. A shift in disposition like this can be caused by the physical and emotional challenges created by dementia. For friends and family, it can be tough to understand and accept that the disease is responsible for the change.
While there currently is no cure for Alzheimer’s and most forms of dementia, early intervention may be helpful in managing symptoms. If you are worried about changes you see in a loved one, encourage them to schedule an appointment with their primary care physician, and volunteer to go with them.
Another sign of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is getting lost or wandering from home. It’s not uncommon to see the evening news broadcast a local search for a missing senior who has memory loss. If you are concerned that could happen to your family member, a mobile medical alert system might be of help. With a touch of a button, the user can call for help, no matter where they are. Call 1-844-203-5617 for more details!