Wellness Words November 2016

Wellness Words November 2016

HealthLink Littauer’sCarol Tomlinson-Head


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS

Community Health Educator

Alzheimer’s Vs. Typical Age-Related Changes


November is Alzheimer’s disease awareness month. According to the National Institute on Aging, there are approximately 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and over 15 million people serve as their caregivers.  For reasons that are not clear, about two-thirds of those living with this disease are women and Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in those over 65.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are early warning signs but they are often confused with typical age related changes and not reported to a physician.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the following are some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias versus typical age related changes.

Alzheimer’s Signs/Symptoms:

  • Repeated poor judgment and decision making
  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Challenges in planning and problem solving
  • Misplacing frequently used things and inability to retrace steps to locate them
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Changes in mood or personality

Typical age related changes may include but are not limited to:

  • Forgetting what day it is but remembering later
  • Missing a monthly payment occasionally
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Losing things from time to time
  • Making a poor choice once in a while
  • Feeling weary of social obligations and sometimes staying home

It is normal to fear that any of these normal changes means something worse. If you are wondering if you have a problem, it is important to discuss this with your doctor.  Write down your questions and take a friend or family member with you to discuss your concerns.

The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for information about the disease. They operate a 24/7 Helpline for people seeking information and support.  If you call 800-272-3900 you can speak confidently with a care consultant that can help with:

  • Information about the signs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias
  • Find out about local programs and services
  • Decision making support, crisis assistance and education on issues faced every day
  • Get general information about medications, other treatment options, legal, financial and care decisions
  • Information on safety services such as Lifeline and the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program. Safe Return provides assistance when someone with the disease wanders or has a medical emergency.
  • Support and education for caregivers

HealthLink, in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association, offers free monthly education programs. This month’s program will be held on November 22 entitled “Alzheimer’s:  Managing Behaviors” from 1 to 2 p.m. and again from 6 to 7 p.m.  We also offer monthly support group meetings held on the second Thursday of each month from 4 to 5 p.m.

For more information or to attend one of these programs, call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.