Sooner or later, you will be asking this about yourself, your spouse or someone else in your family. However, the question of whether you are noticing dementia signs is not an easy one to answer. As you age, a certain amount of forgetfulness can accompany you. It often means that you are having a harder time recalling new pieces of information, such as the name of a person you met for the first time last week. On the other hand, “typical signs [of dementia] are extreme forgetfulness, not just forgetting the keys here and there. Rather, forgetting where one is, whether or not one just ate, forgetting to put shoes on before going outside, and that sort of thing,” says Ross Andel, PhD. Here are some red flags of dementia signs that might indicate a problem:
• Does it interfere with daily life? Now and again everyone forgets a name, but if you are consistently forgetting your appointments, can’t remember how to cook the foods you’ve always been able to, or your family is telling you you’ve asked them about the same information multiple times, these are more serious signs.
• Do you have trouble thinking things through? It may be time to seek help if you start to notice that you can’t figure out how to balance your checkbook or plan the kind of trip you used to enjoy. In fact, a recent study suggests that problems remembering how to handle money foreshadows an Alzheimer’s diagnosis by up to a year.
• Are you at a loss for words? If you are frequently unable to come up with the word or phrase you want to say, this can be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
• Are you having trouble retracing your steps? Misplacing your keys is a common occurrence; however, most people can usually go back over their steps to find them again. Signs of dementia include an inability to retrace your steps to find lost items.
• Do you lose your sense of place and time? Forgetting where you are, how you got there, the order of events or even what day it is, these are all more than just “normal” signs of memory loss.
While it is natural to worry about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as causes of your memory loss, you should know there are some other possible causes as well:
• Head Injury
• Medication side effects
• Protein Deficiency
• Vitamin B12 deficiency
If you are worried, speak with your doctor. Best case scenario, you will be reassured that your forgetfulness is normal with age, and at worse, you will be able to start early with dementia treatment.