By Rick Banas of assisted living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
While the risk of Alzheimer’s increases as we age, the disease is not a normal part of the aging process, Kelli Walkington explained during an informational program she conducted last week at the Cambridge House of Swansea affordable assisted living community.
Kelli is a licensed Physical Therapy Assistant with the Cedar Ridge Health and Rehab Center in Lebanon, Illinois. Cambridge House of Swansea is one of three Cambridge House affordable assisted living communities that BMA manages in the St. Louis Metro East area.
We don’t think of Alzheimer’s as a disease affecting young people, but it can affect people in their 40s, she said.
The disease changes the way we think and the way we function. It ranks as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
There is a difference between what we commonly think of as age-related forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s, Kelli emphasized.
Misplacing your keys or glasses from time to time; forgetting a name and remembering it later; having difficulty at times finding the right word to use; or occasionally making an error in your checkbook or forgetting to pay a bill are typically due to age-related changes.
Forgetting how to perform newly learned tasks and not being able to remember newly learned information is one of the most common first signs of Alzheimer’s.
Kelli reviewed and commented on the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease provided by the Alzheimer’s Association. She also reviewed recommendations for improving your memory provided by the Mayo Clinic.
Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.A person may ask for the same information over and over again, forget important dates or events, ask others to do things that he or she used to routinely handle on their own.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.For example, having difficulty concentrating, following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.Examples include not being able to remember the rules to a familiar game and not being able to manage personal finances.
4. Confusion with time or place.For example, people forgetting who they are and how they got somewhere. Thinking it is two o’clock in the afternoon when it is two o’clock in the morning.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.This includes determining color or contrast and judging distances, which can cause problems with driving.
6. New problems with words, speaking or writing.Having trouble following or joining a conversation. Stopping in the middle of speaking and having no idea of how to continue. Repeating thins and calling things by the wrong name.
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.This also can include putting things in unusual places, such as down in the basement, in the freezer, or underneath the cushions of a couch.
8. Decreased or poor judgment.Examples include giving large amounts of money to telemarketers and paying less attention to grooming.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.Individuals with Alzheimer’s remove themselves because they are embarrassed and because it is difficult for them to carry on a conversation.
10. Changes in mood and personality.This is probably the hardest and most heart-wrenching of the symptoms; the personality of the person with Alzheimer’s is not what it used to be.
Seven Tips to Improve Your Memory
Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic
1. Stay Mentally Active.
Do crossword puzzles and word finds. Read the newspaper. Play card games. Drive alternative routes.
2. Socialize Regularly.
Social interaction helps with depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Get together with loved ones, friends and others. Attend activities, exercise classes, presentations and church.
3. Get Organized.
Keep a calendar. Write down appointments and other events in a special place. Verbally recite your daily schedule. Make To-Do lists and check off items as you have completed them. Keep items such as your keys, shoes, glasses and dentures in the same place. Keep an address and phone book. Keep cards with information about your doctor and emergency phone numbers in the same place.
Limit distractions. Focus at the task at hand. If you focus on the information that you are trying to remember, you will be more likely to recall it later. Use repetition, and connect information to something that is familiar.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is good for your brain. East fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-protein sources. Drink water. Not drinking enough water or drinking too much alcohol can lead to confusion and memory loss.
6. Include Physical Activity in Your Daily Routine
Physical activity and exercise helps keep your memory sharp. For most health adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week. If you do not have time for a full workout, squeeze in a few 10-minute walks throughout the day. Some exercise is better than no exercise.
7. Manage Chronic Conditions
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for any chronic conditions you have such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. Have your doctor review your medications. Various medications can impact your thinking and memory. Take care of yourself and your health.
For more information about the 10 Warning Signs, go to http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp#signs
For more information about Alzheimer’s disease from the Mayo Clinic, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/DS00161
All affordable assisted living communities managed by BMA Management, Ltd. are certified and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. All assisted living communities are licensed and surveyed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“BMA Management, Ltd. is the leading provider of assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
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