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7 Signs your Forgetful Loved One May Have Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior woman with her elder care nurse

Your parent or loved one isn’t acting normal. They’re becoming distant and forgetful. Is it Alzheimer’s or just part of aging?

Alzheimer’s disease can be scary for both the person losing their memory and the family members who are seeing their loved one struggle with the disease. Many think it’s just a part of aging or that it’s only dementia.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, neither is true.

Dementia is only a symptom. Just like a cough and fever are symptoms for many illnesses, dementia is a symptom for Alzheimer’s and many other conditions. If your loved one is suffering from dementia, it doesn’t automatically mean they have Alzheimer’s disease.

At the same time, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Some memory loss is normal with aging. However, the severe disorientation and forgetfulness of Alzheimer’s disease, which interfere with daily life, are not normal.

At the NMC Health Senior Behavioral Health Center, our mission is to assist patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, memory care and other senior behavioral health needs reach their fullest quality of life. With our dedicated senior behavioral health care team and state-of-the-art secure facilities, each year we help dozens of patients and their families regain independence they once thought was lost forever. One of the most common questions we receive early in the care process is:

“How can we tell if the forgetfulness we see in our loved one is a natural part of aging or if it is a symptom of Alzheimer’s or some other disease?”

If you’re in the same boat as many of our new patients and their families, you’re probably asking this same question. Here are seven things to watch for if you think a loved one might have Alzheimer’s and what your next steps should be.

1. Daily Life Becomes Difficult

Butter bread. Place it in the toaster… RIGHT?

When everyday chores become confusing or impossible to finish, this can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sequences to complete simple tasks no longer make sense. You or your loved one withdraws from or stops usual routines and hobbies. Even reading and watching television may end because it’s too difficult to follow a story line.

2. Repetition

How was your day? Did you have a good day? How did it go today? How was your day?

Asking the same question repeatedly or telling the same story over and over might indicate Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other brain issues.

3. Communication

Where have you gone?

Is your loved one having difficulty joining in a conversation? Were they an outgoing person and they’ve become uncharacteristically quiet?

These could be signs of Alzheimer’s disease or other brain issues. They may also develop issues with speaking, writing, or mispronouncing words.

4. Getting Lost

This isn’t my street. Whose yard is this?

Disorientation and easily getting lost are common signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Is your family member no longer able to find a room in their home?  Perhaps they can’t find their way back into the house from the back yard. They may even run an errand and be unable to find their way to their destination or their way back home.  

5. Confusion

Is it morning or evening? Is it Tuesday or Friday?

If your loved one is confused about where they are, who others are, or about the time of day, it may be a sign that they are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. 

Have you noticed that they are now taking naps during the day and staying up at night? 

6. Personality Changes

Who are you? I don’t recognize who you’ve become.

Have you noticed changes in a loved one’s demeanor? 

Alzheimer’s patients may develop anxiety, be fearful, become suspicious, or develop apathy. They can be easily upset and develop verbal or physical aggression.

They often lose the ability to deal with triggers related to past trauma in their lives, and may lose inhibition in regards to sexual behaviors/comments. 

7. Lapse in Habits

What happened here? This isn’t normal.

Have you noticed late payments when your loved one always paid their bills on time before?  Has their judgement about how to spend money changed?

Perhaps they’ve started neglecting their personal hygiene—not taking baths, not combing their hair, or not changing soiled clothing.

When your loved one is no longer keeping habits or maintaining their daily needs, they may be experiencing a mental health need including Alzheimer’s disease.

What to do if you think your loved one might have Alzheimer’s Disease

If your loved one exhibits one or several of these 7 behaviors, they may benefit from seeking treatment for Alzheimer’s. But where do you start? How do you or your loved one verify that they need treatment

Here’s what to do if you think your loved one might have Alzheimer’s Disease:

  1. Call your loved one’s family physician. If your loved one doesn’t have a regular doctor, view our Family Medicine clinics to find the location most convenient to you and call to schedule a visit with one of our experienced providers.
  2. Sometimes additional testing is required for a complete diagnosis. If your doctor recommends seeing a neurologist, NMC Health has Neurology Specialists to help you out.
  3. If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, they may benefit from assistance from the NMC Health Senior Behavioral Health Center. Our services can make all the difference as you and your loved one adjusts to life with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  4. Join a Dementia Support Group. Living with dementia or with a loved one affected by the disease can be difficult for everyone involved. You are not alone. NMC Health hosts Dementia Support Groups on the last Thursday of every month for those living with dementia in their life to share tips, encouragement, and experiences.

How can the NMC Health Senior Behavioral Health Center help your loved one?

When your loved one is in our care…

  • A psychiatrist will be on-site to assist them 5-6 days a week.
  • Your family member receives individualized one-on-one care as needed.
  • Our specialized nursing staff, social workers and psychiatrist work with your family to develop a treatment plan customized to both you and your loved one’s needs.
  • We develop a treatment plan beyond medication regimens – a treatment plan that includes helping your loved one to feel safe, secure, valued and valuable.

Want to learn more about how NMC Health cares for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease in our specialized Senior Behavioral Health Center?

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