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Dementia Warning Signs: Could You Miss Them?

As you gather with loved ones during the holidays, pay close attention to clues that they might be needing more help in their day-to-day lives or even living with a progressive illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.

 Just a few months ago, TV show host Dr. Oz revealed that he had missing the warning signs of his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. Although trained as a cardiothoracic surgeon and not a geriatrician, he shared publicly that in hindsight he had been overlooking her symptoms for a long time.

Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia is not part of typical aging. Here are some of the signs that Dr. Oz said he missed in his own mother:

  • Increasing stubbornness
  • Giving away personal items to non-family
  • A significant change in simple routines (such as a new way of applying makeup)
  • Difficulty with planning
  • Confusion with time and place (Dr. Oz shared that his mother would invite him for lunch even though she lives in Turkey and he resides in the United States)
  • Challenges with completing tasks
  • Problems with words
  • No longer having the ability to retrace one’s steps to find a misplaced item

What isn’t on this list is the symptom most commonly associated with dementia: memory loss. The disease can be present before memories fade.

What If Your Loved One Has Symptoms?

Alzheimer’s disease isn’t going to go away or get better, and early intervention can benefit the whole family. That said, there are some symptoms that could mimic dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Start a conversation with your loved one about your concerns and schedule an appointment with their health care provider. If possible, join them at the medical appointment so that you can discuss what you observed and why it was concerning to you. Communication with your loved one is essential so that they do not avoid you or the doctor or getting necessary help.

When someone is diagnosed early enough with this progressive disease, it can mean prolonged independence and being able to make their own end-of-life decisions still.

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