I came into the picture too late for my grandmother. I have spent countless hours on a Sherlock Holmes type search for clues and information about her personal business. Things like investments, personal accounts, insurance policies, funeral plans, etc. A lot of times I don’t know something exists until we get something new in the mail about it. Then it’s like, “Oh awesome, you made pre-planned funeral arrangements. Who knew?”
The thing is, my grandmother had her stuff together. She was a successful entrepreneur who kept meticulous records and prided herself on being extremely organized. And she was, but only to a certain point. Her unexpected move to my mothers house when she first started having memory issues left most of her business and paperwork items in disarray. By the time I realized that I desperately needed this information, my grandmother could no longer provide it. I am however grateful that she kept excellent records, as they have proven helpful (when I can find them).
A family member called the other day to share that she thought her grandmother might be having some memory issues. She asked me what she should do. I’m starting to get these calls more often. Not because I’m an expert by any means. Nor do I have any real training, other than my Google.com medical degree. Mostly, because they know I am in the thick of it and might be able to provide some insight. That phone call inspired this post.
I realize that many people don’t want to know they might be ill. However, in the long run it will help them and their loved ones manage all the changes ahead. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, half or more of Americans with Alzheimer’s do not know they have the disease.
Not only has having a diagnoses helped with planning, it has also been a great exercise in patience. When things are forgotten or lost, or appointments are missed, (while I still have my moments) I’m less likely to get upset and frustrated, because I understand there is a problem. I’m more proactive in making sure we have a routine and stick to it, to avoid unnecessary confusion and disruption.
Other reasons I support seeing a medical professional at the first sign that there may be a problem include the fact that early diagnosis:
Provides the person and their loved ones time to come up with a plan.
Gives the person an opportunity to provide instructions and directives on how they would like to move forward.
Helps avoid stress and conflict between family members when everyone has different ideas on what’s best for their loved one.
Allows you to make living and driving arrangements to make sure your loved one is safe, especially if they live alone.
Helps avoid unnecessary conflict with your loved. If you know they have an illness, you are more likely to be understanding and patient.
Gives you an opportunity to take advantage of resources, support services and to seek help before you are in the thick of the battle.
Provides more time to make and record memories.
Furthermore, not all memory issues are a sign of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Some memory issues might actually be brought on by depression, menopause, stress, high blood pressure, or a host of other problems. That’s why it’s important to get checked out as soon as you notice something may be wrong. The issue might be something that can be easily fixed or reversed.
I have listed below 10 Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s as identified by the Alzheimer’s Association. Remember there is no exact science to this disease, and this makes every single aspect of it even harder. These are not the only warning signs, just the most common. I’ve also included typical age-related changes as well. Please don’t think that just because a person loses their keys, or can’t remember why they came into a room, that they have Alzheimer’s. Hopefully, this list will give you a place to start. If you notice any of these signs I encourage you to visit a healthcare professional and find out why.
Have you seen any of the warning signs above in your loved one? Would you want to know if these signs were a symptom of a bigger issues? Why or why not? I would be interested in hearing your feedback in the comments below. Thanks!