ALZHEIMER’S WARNING SIGN NUMBER TWO
In last week’s issue this column explored the first out of ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease — memory loss. Moving on with number two, if you experience any of these signs, see your doctor or contact Saint Lucia Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association for more information or for a memory screening. Having difficulty completing familiar tasks. This means forgetting how to do something that you have done almost all of your life such as preparing a meal that you have routinely done for a long time. This sign can sometimes simply be that a person may forget an ingredient or take longer than usual to complete the dish. It’s important to note that this sign can cause stress in a person or to family members who observe the changes and sometimes mistakenly get angry with the patient.
The person experiencing this warning sign may or may not be aware that they are struggling. In cases that they are aware, they may try to hide or ignore the changes. If they are not aware, they sometimes tend to become upset if you point out the development and sometimes feel inadequate.
When dealing with changes and mistakes, it’s wise to deal with this in a loving manner. For example, if your wife begins preparing your favourite meal for you but you realize that she may be boiling a pot of mangoes instead, don’t embarrass her about it; just go with her flow. Later she may catch on at what happened and when she does, you can talk and laugh about it. Whether she notices it or not, seek medical attention after noticing this warning sign.
It would also be wise to start talking to family and friends, to see if they have noticed any changes, when planning to see a doctor. Questions about warning signs:
Q: I am forgetting people’s name so easily. Does this mean I have dementia or Alzheimer’s? A:
No. If you were a person that was sharp at remembering people’s names and you are now not as sharp, you may want to exercise your memory. Are you stressed? If it is a serious concern for you, monitor yourself and take notes for a week or two, and take the results to a doctor and get a few lab test to rule out any deficiencies. Forgetting people’s names when you first meet them is viewed as normal. However, if this is far from your normal self then get it checked. Q: My sister has been leaving the cooker on frequently. She gets angry when I point it out. It’s dangerous, my goodness. I think something is wrong but the rest of the family says she is okay. I want her to see a doctor but cannot convince my family to help. Do you have any suggestions? A: You will need to keep a journal with dates and times of your observations. She might have other symptoms that you may not notice. Do this for two weeks to a month and you might observe a pattern you or your family didn’t see before. It will be a good visual for your family to see and, depending on the personality of your sister or her condition, she might see also that she needs to find out what is causing the changes.
Regarding her leaving the cooker on, if she is living alone this is dangerous. Having someone with her during meal and tea prep should be considered for safety until she sees a doctor. 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, counselling and family training for coping skills and communication with persons living with dementia.
Do you, or someone you know, have difficulty completing familiar tasks?