ALZHEIMER’S WARN­ING SIGN NUM­BER TWO

The Star (St. Lucia) - - HEALTH - By Regina Pos­var 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?

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