The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Regina Pos­var

When talk­ing about ill­ness, each con­di­tion has its own set of warn­ing signs. For Alzheimer's there are 10 of them. If you ex­pe­ri­ence any of these signs see your doc­tor or con­tact the Saint Lu­cia Alzheimer's and De­men­tia As­so­ci­a­tion for more in­for­ma­tion or for a mem­ory screen­ing.

Warn­ing Sign Num­ber Five: im­paired judge­ment.

Ex­am­ples of this can range from a pa­tient hav­ing a lack of abil­ity to rec­og­nize a se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tion to giv­ing ex­ces­sively large amounts of money to char­ity. They can also not pay at­ten­tion to safety in their en­vi­ron­ment like when walk­ing away from the stove with burn­ers on but not cook­ing any­thing or forgetting the stove is on. They may also over-dress or un­der-dress or put clothes on back­wards or shoes on the wrong foot.

Many times, this sign will seem sub­tle at first and as time passes things seem to be­come okay un­til some­thing more se­ri­ous is noted. When fam­ily tries to ad­dress it with their loved one, the fam­ily will likely get re­sis­tance be­cause the per­son is un­aware that any­thing is wrong and when you point it out they may be of­fended by the ac­cu­sa­tion. The per­son still has some logic in the be­gin­ning so, if this is a con­cern, it is best to write it down and log it. Find a calm, kind way to bring it to their at­ten­tion and tell them that you love them and are con­cerned and ask if they would see a doc­tor for you.

Ques­tions about warn­ing signs: Q: My mother lives alone. My sis­ter, who lives near her, stated that mom is for­get­ful and that she has a new neigh­bour friend that helps her in her gar­den. She no­ticed mom re­ally likes her and gives her things all the time. Mom is known for that, but she seems to be giv­ing a lit­tle more than usual. Is there a way we can talk to the neigh­bour with­out of­fend­ing mom or the neigh­bour?

A: It's wise to be care­ful. For the neigh­bour, you will want to thank her for help­ing your mom and ask her in pri­vate if she has no­ticed any for­get­ful­ness and any other be­hav­iours that are out of char­ac­ter for your mom. Ask her di­rectly if she can re­mem­ber the items your mom has given her and let her know your con­cern. If you do not trust the per­son you have an­other sit­u­a­tion on your hands. Take an in­ven­tory and, if pos­si­ble, re­move some of the heir­looms in the house. If the items are not a con­cern, then fo­cus on the changes with your mom. The neigh­bour may be a won­der­ful help in get­ting her to the doc­tor.

Q: I am work­ing with a pa­tient who lives on her own. I was hired to keep her com­pany. I have no­ticed that she pulls out large amounts of money from the bank. She does this every cou­ple of days. I don’t know what she does with the money. I have told the fam­ily that she goes to the bank a lot. They don’t seem too con­cerned, but I think some­thing is go­ing on. She doesn’t spend much money at all when we go out. But she keeps col­lect­ing the money. I have asked her what she does with all that money and she says, “I keep all my money.” How should I deal with this?

A: I would find out if all of her bills are be­ing paid. If she is late more than two months, I would let the fam­ily know. Some­times in early stages of Alzheimer's or a re­lated de­men­tia, peo­ple will have a big is­sue with money. They want to have con­trol of all of their money. This is some­thing the fam­ily should be con­cerned about if the need to con­trol her money be­comes out of hand to the point that she does not pay bills or she may be think­ing peo­ple are tak­ing her money.

Regina Pos­var is the cur­rent pres­i­dent of the Saint Lu­cia Alzheimer’s and De­men­tia As­so­ci­a­tion and has been a li­censed nurse for 25 years. SLADA is sup­ported by vol­un­teers and do­na­tions and aims to bring aware­ness and sup­port by pro­vid­ing aware­ness pub­lic work­shops, fam­ily sup­port, mem­ory screen­ings, the Mem­ory Café, coun­sel­ing and fam­ily train­ing for cop­ing skills and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with per­sons liv­ing with de­men­tia.

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