May 28
Signs of Alzheimer's

How to Recognize the Difference between Normal Aging and Alzheimer’s

In today’s fast-paced society, we all forget a few things. It might be where you put your umbrella or the password to one of your online shopping destinations. So how can you tell if your senior loved one’s forgetfulness is a normal part of the aging process or something more serious?

It is a question we hear often from adult children in the Seattle and Puget Sound area. To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask yourself about your family member’s behavior.

Questions to Help Families Spot the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

1. When your family member forgets something like a doctor’s appointment or to pay a bill, do they remember it later?

People with Alzheimer’s disease typically won’t remember it at all. Information they forget is usually gone forever. Even if you remind them, they likely won’t realize they already knew about the appointment or chore they were supposed to complete.

2. Is your senior loved one struggling to remember to do things or are they having problems remembering how to do them?

While this may seem like a minor distinction, it really isn’t. When an older adult exhibits behavior that seems to indicate their abstract thought process is impaired, it could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. They might be struggling to pay bills, for example, because they can’t remember how to write out a check properly.

3. Do you notice a pattern developing whereby your aging parent or loved one is misplacing things or “storing” things in inappropriate locations?

This behavior is often an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. They may also become suspicious of close friends and family and accuse them of stealing their misplaced possessions.

4. Is the senior you care for unable to recall recent events even after repeated prompts?

For example, you call your loved one in the morning to remind them that you will pick them up in an hour for their doctor’s appointment. When you arrive at their home, you find they aren’t ready to go and don’t recall having the conversation.

5. Does your loved one have a hard time finding their way to and from familiar locations?

If your older loved one has always gone to swim at the YMCA a few days a week but now they can’t find their way home, it is a behavior that warrants a call to their primary care physician. Getting lost in a familiar environment may be a sign of something more than normal aging.
If you found yourself answering YES to more than one of these questions, it may be time to consider scheduling an appointment with their doctor. He or she is the best person to help decide if the problem is normal aging or something more serious that needs to be investigated.