DENVER -- Spotting the signs of Alzheimer’s could be especially important during the holidays. The Alzheimer’s Association says seeing family members for the first time in months or even a year can make the changes that come with the brain disease more obvious.
Jim Herlihy with the Alzheimer’s Association in Denver says changes linked to Alzheimer’s happen incrementally. In fact, the disease can take up to 20 years to progress before it’s diagnosed. At a certain point those changes become evident and that’s when Herlihy says family members and friends start to notice.
The Alzheimer’s Association lists these 10 warning signs and symptoms:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, so early detection is important.
“Sadly, Alzheimer’s is much more prevalent than we realize. Until it’s touched your family, people don't have a reason to think about it. And they think about it as an old person’s disease or they think of it as something that happens inevitably, but it doesn’t have to happen that way,” explained Herlihy.
According to Herlihy, the Alzheimer’s Association helpline sees a spike in the number of calls this time of year. They have counselors standing by 24/7. They are there to help answer questions and connect callers to resources. The helpline number is: 800-272-3900
The group says the most important step for anyone who notices symptoms of Alzheimer’s in a relative or friend, is to make sure he or she sees a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.