Alzheimer's and Dementa Caregiving, Dementia Caregiver Stories

Early Signs

Hmm...is this normal aging? Menopause? Something else?

Things to know

Do I worry now? Early symptoms vary; concerning signs include changes or decline in: 

  • Memory 

  • Mood or personality

  • Judgement

  • Socializing

  • Planning or problem solving

  • Completing familiar tasks

  • Ascertaining time or place

  • Balance or judging distance

  • Spoken or written language

  • Finding things

ISSUE

Dementia is not normal aging most dementia is diagnosed in people over 65.

 

You may be observing normal aging or a health issue unrelated to dementia.

 

See a doctor soon and find out. Early detection may slow progression.

TIMING

Take notes about concerning behavior so doctors can assess what's going on.

Identify a supportive approach to raise concerns with your Loved One, recognizing that they may be scared or confused. 

See a doctor. S/he can help you assess if the changes in behavior are concerning and need to be looked into further. 

AN APPROACH

How they did it

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ANITA

Age: Early 30s

Loved One: Mom, Early 60s

Diagnosis: Vascular Dementia

Years Since Diagnosis: 1

On the way to a memorable event - a child's funeral, she called me for directions. A week later, I asked her about the funeral and she said “I didn’t go.” I said “what do you mean, you were en route.” And she said “I forgot to go….no, it's on Saturday, I’m going.” 

 

Shortly after,  I took her and my kids to a show. She got up to get  popcorn. She left her purse and never came back.  I walked around this arena, lugging our coats, her purse and the stroller.  Intermission was over. I couldn’t find her. The security guards started helping us. Eventually we found her. She had sat down in a random seat. I was sweating. Panicked. I was angry. I said “why would you just sit down? Why wouldn’t you try to find me? Why wouldn't you ask for help?”

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SOPHIA

Age: Early 30s

Loved One: Dad, Mid-60s

Diagnosis: Early Onset Alzheimer's

Years Since Diagnosis: 1

My dad is weird. I don't know how else to say that. He’s kinda aloof.  The first time I noticed a change in his personality, we were meeting to go to a concert . He was in a mood. He was drinking a lot at the time. We had some drinks together, it was really loud. He freaked out. He reacted really weird. I’d never seen him act like that before. We got into a big fight. My dad and stepmom had recently broken up. I thought he was  being a jerk. And, I think that's common in this situation -- to look at your dad and think “what's wrong with you? So I walked away from that situation really angry and then we didn't really talk much.

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ZACH

Age: Mid-30s

Loved One: Mom, Early 70s

Diagnosis: Alzheimer's

Years Since Diagnosis: 8

After my nephew was born, my parents and I came to help out. We all live nearby to one another now, but then we were apart. My sister in law gave us instructions for what we had to do. My mother was getting really frustrated and doubled back on things that we had just discussed. I told her I could handle it alone.  Earlier that day, she had misplaced her glasses. We had all joked about the missing glasses. When we found them, she put them in her purse. Twenty minutes later she said she couldn't find her glasses. We all laughed thinking it was a joke.  But she didn't remember that she had just lost her glasses and we had put them in her purse.

How you can do it

Learn more about how other caregivers have identified and responded to early signs

MORE STORIES ABOUT EARLY SIGNS

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EARLY SIGNS

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