In addition to the dementia medication, the doctor prescribed antidepressants, which made a huge difference in my parents’ moods. Then, my father received anti-aggression medication, which smoothed out his damaged impulse control. Once their brain chemistries were properly balanced, I was able to use some behavioral techniques: distraction, redirection, reminiscence, and validation. Then I was able to get them out of bed (“waiting to die”) and into Adult Day Health Care, which saved all our lives for several years.
Hindsight is Always 20/20
I am shocked that none of the many professionals who treated my parents ever discussed the possibility of dementia with me. Had I simply been shown the “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s”, flashing lights would have gone off in my head. I would have realized a year earlier what was happening. I could have gotten my parents the help they so desperately needed and delayed the progression of the disease much sooner.
If any of this rings true for you or about someone you love, I encourage you to reach out for help by calling the Alzheimer’s Association 800-272-3900. You can get a referral to a dementia specialist right away. Tell them Jacqueline sent you!
Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the most common early signs of dementia is forgetting recently learned information. While it’s normal to forget appointments, names, or telephone numbers, those with dementia will forget such things more often and not remember them later.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks that are so familiar we usually do not think about how to do them. A person with Alzheimer’s may not know the steps for preparing a meal, using a household appliance, or participating in a lifelong hobby.
Problems with language
Everyone has trouble finding the right word sometimes, but a person with Alzheimer’s disease often forgets simple words or substitutes unusual words, making his or her speech or writing hard to understand. If a person with Alzheimer’s is unable to find his or her toothbrush, for example, the individual may ask for “that thing for my mouth.”
Disorientation to time and place
It’s normal to forget the day of the week or where you’re going. But people with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost on their own street. They forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
Poor or decreased judgment
No one has perfect judgment all of the time. Those with Alzheimer’s may dress without regard to the weather, wearing several shirts or blouses on a warm day or very little clothing in cold weather. Individuals with dementia often show poor judgment about money. They give away large amounts of money to telemarketers or pay for home repairs or products they don’t need.
Problems with abstract thinking
Balancing a checkbook may be hard when the task is more complicated than usual. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease could forget completely what the numbers are and what needs to be done with them.
Anyone can temporarily misplace a wallet or key. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
Changes in mood or behavior
Everyone can become sad or moody from time to time. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease can show rapid mood swings from calm to tears to anger for no apparent reason.
Changes in personality
People’s personalities ordinarily change somewhat with age. But a person with Alzheimer’s disease can change a lot. They become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful, or dependent on a family member.
Loss of initiative
It’s normal to tire of housework, business activities, or social obligations at times. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive. They often sit in front of the television for hours, sleep more than usual, or not want to do usual activities.