Wellness Words September 2010

Wellness Words September 2010

HealthLink Littauer’s


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson RN BS

Community Health Educator


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It may, however, be a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, a fatal brain condition that causes slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.

There are many benefits of early detection, diagnosis and intervention for people with this condition and for their caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association, the world leader in Alzheimer’s research and support, has developed the following checklist of common symptoms to help the public recognize the warning signs of the disease.

  1. Memory Loss: Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common signs. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information repeatedly or relying on memory aides.
  2. Challenges In Planning Or Solving Problems: People with Alzheimer’s often experience difficulty in performing formerly routine tasks. They may have trouble keeping track of monthly bills or using a checkbook. They may also have difficulty concentrating and may take longer to complete a task.
  3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks: For example, they may have trouble driving to a familiar location or remembering the rules of a game.
  4. Confusion With Time Or Place: Persons with this disease may lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may also have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may even forget where they are or how they got there.
  5. Trouble Understanding Visual Images And Spatial Relationships: They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.
  6. New Problems With Words In Speaking Or Writing: There may be trouble following or joining in a conversation. They may have difficulty finding the right word or may call things by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing Things And Being Unable To Retrace Steps: A person with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places. They may not only lose things, but be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. This may occur more frequently over time and they may even accuse others of stealing what they have misplaced.
  8. Decreased Or Poor Judgment: For example, they may use poor judgment dealing with money and may give away sums they can’t afford. Dressing inappropriately for the conditions may be another sign of decreasing judgment.
  9. Withdrawal From Work Or Social Activities. They may increasingly remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work or sports. They may become passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleep more than usual or not want to see family or friends.
  10. Changes In Mood Or Personality: People with this disease can change dramatically. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious.

Although Alzheimer’s is not curable at the present time, there are many benefits of early detection, diagnosis and intervention for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

For more information on Alzheimer’s, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900 (www.alzneny.org), or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at www.nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.