A few forgotten things doesn't mean it's Alzheimer's

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Tue 8th May, 2012

You just missed your doctor's appointment. Or, you forgot to make a monthly payment. You have no idea what day it is. You keep on misplacing your keys. You look for words to use in your conversations. You are nervous and wondering if it is just old age or something worse.
These changes may simply be age-related - which is normal. However, to a certain extent they cannot be ignored, as they may be related to Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible degeneration of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions that eventually leads to death from complete brain failure.
At the moment, 1.2million people are affected by the disease; 70% women, 30% men. Studies indicate that 6.5 to 8.7 percent of the over 65s in Germany suffer from dementia. This translates to a total of 830,000 to 1.1 million. Two thirds of those suffering from dementia are Alzheimer's patients.

The most common signs of Alzheimer's are:

1. Memory loss

Forgetting recently learned information or important dates or events; as well as asking for the same information over and over are not a good sign.

2. Challenges in solving problems

You could solve sudoku in a bit over the world record time; now you take much longer. You have difficulty concentrating. You are unable to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. You are having trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. You used to pick your grandchild from school every Tuesday, for a number of years. Now, you have trouble driving to the school. You are not sure about the way. Or, you just cannot remember the rules of playing monopoly.

4. Confusion with time or place

You have lost track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. At times you forget where you are or how you got there.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

You have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. At times you pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room without realizing that you are the person in the mirror. This is not a good sign.

6. Problems with words

You have trouble following or joining a conversation. At times you stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue. You repeat yourself and often struggle with vocabulary, often having problems finding the right word.

7. Misplacing things and inability to retrace steps

You always kept your keys near the door. Now, you put them in unusual places. You lose things and you are unable to go back over your steps to find them again. At times you can even swear you put something somewhere, but, well, you didn't.

8. Decreased or poor judgement

You would never leave the house unkempt. Now, you pay less attention to grooming or keeping yourself clean. You may use poor judgment when dealing with money, often giving large amount to telemarketers.

9. Withdrawal from work, social activities

You loved going to work, you loved playing golf, you loved swimming. Now, you can hardly remember which club to use for which shot. Bayern Munich is playing against Chelsea, but you can hardly keep up with your team. You are now beginning to avoid being social because of the changes you have experienced.

10. Mood swings and personality changes

You may be easily upset in social settings, whenever you are out of your comfort zone. You can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you know, don't ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. A stitch in time saves nine.

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