When we hear the word Alzheimer’s most of us think only of memory loss. That’s the most commonly known of the 10 Warning Signs. However Alzheimer’s is more than simply forgetting where we put the keys or the name of that movie star we saw last week at the theater. Some memory-related changes are common as we age but that may just mean it takes us a little longer to recall a fact or figure. Those of us without Alzheimer’s can dig into the files locked away in our memory and eventually, sometimes at 2 am, that name or fact will pop to the surface. For someone with Alzheimer’s disease that memory is no longer retrievable. The connections between brain cells have been permanently damaged by the disease. Memory-related changes due to Alzheimer’s impact daily life in a number of ways. The steps that those of us without Alzheimer’s follow automatically to make dinner, do the laundry, wash the dishes, manage the household accounts and bills, even provide child care can simply become too complex. These are things we’ve done our whole lives. We grew up helping around the house, went out on our own into the world to do these same things for ourselves and now may have a family to care for. Alzheimer’s disease changes all that. However, by recognizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s early, we can empower ourselves. An early diagnosis provides access to medications when they are the most effective, it offers us the opportunity to serve as an advocate for the cause, with a diagnosis we can also participate in finding new solutions through clinical research, and it allows us to make our own decisions that will impact our quality of life for the future. To learn more about the 10 Warning Signs click here.
Barbara Caudle is a social worker and the Regional Director for the Colorado Springs office of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. Prior to joining the Colorado Springs office, Barb served as Regional Director in the Association’s Southern Colorado Office for 14 years.