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Memory lapses now and then are common- you forget a phone number, you don’t know where you left your house keys, you don’t even remember what you ate for breakfast! But wait, as you age there is a nagging thought at the back of your mind. Do you think it’s Alzheimer’s but aren’t sure? Well, if you remember that you forgot, you probably don’t have Alzheimer’s.

Aging is normal and something we can’t escape. As we grow older, our body deteriorates and so does our brain. Forgetfulness is eventual. Even so, it is essential to know the difference between age-related forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s as early detection is key to figuring out the way forward.

Here are a few ways to tell whether you might have Alzheimer’s and that it’s not just age showing up-

Difficulty with Remembering Familiar Faces/Places

If you forget familiar people and places often, it is a sign of Alzheimer’s. By familiar, I mean, members of your family or the way to places that you visit often like your workplace or grocery shop.

We all forget names once in a while but forgetting frequently is quite a tell-tale sign. Short-term memory loss like forgetting recent conversations and people you just met are symptoms of the early stages of Alzheimer’s. You also tend to lose track of dates, seasons and where you are supposed to go.

A person who is aging might forget a phone number or name but then remember it later or at least ask about it.

Difficulty with Daily Tasks/Routine

A person with Alzheimer’s faces difficulty in completing tasks that are regular or a part of his/her daily routine. For example- not just forgetting whether they brushed their teeth and bathed but forgetting how to brush their teeth and bathe is a sign of Alzheimer’s.

Missing appointments, not just once in a while, but on a more frequent basis. The daily functioning in simple everyday tasks gets impaired for people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Difficulty with Language and Speech Pattern

Trouble with words is one of the biggest warnings for Alzheimer’s. By that, I don’t mean the occasional slip of the tongue or using the wrong word in the wrong context. Forgetting words often while engaging in conversation or even forgetting what you are saying mid-sentence can be an indicator. If the person is struggling with their vocabulary and calls an object by a wrong name or uses substitute words like ‘hand-clock’ instead of ‘watch’ all the time, they might have Alzheimer’s. Very often, they are unable to identify common objects like a bottle or paper.

Visual/Depth Perception gets Faulty

Alzheimer’s causes challenges in the way people perceive objects or depth. For example, they might not be able to judge the distance between people or the height of a chair or stairs while walking. They have difficulty in noticing the difference between different colours and contrasts. If they walk by a mirror, they feel there is someone else in the room.

On the other hand, a person who is aging might experience low vision, slight blindness or develop a cataract.

Behavioral Changes

We all make bad decisions sometimes. But if you notice a sudden change in judgment and repeated bad decisions like giving away a lot of money or an inability to keep to a budget are signs that you or someone around you might be suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Age-related forgetfulness might cause you to forget one monthly payment but with Alzheimer’s, it happens repeatedly. There is also a noticeable change in social behavior like a withdrawal from hobbies or activities that the person previously enjoyed or avoiding such social events due to the feelings they are experiences. Personality changes like depression, anxiety, being confused, fearful and anxious or even suspicious and sudden mood swings even with people that they are comfortable with are indications of Alzheimer’s.

If you notice all the above changes, it is important to pay a visit to your doctor for a check-up and diagnosis.

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