Early Alzheimer’s Clues

Changes in behavior or personality may be the first signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Memory loss is not the only sign of dementia; losing interest in your favorite activities or getting unusually anxious, aggressive or suspicious may also be symptoms.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia affecting more than 5 million people in the U.S. It gradually leads to memory loss as well as the inability to think and reason. Many people with dementia experience other symptoms too, like depression or “sun downing” which is an agitation that happens at the end of the day. Some people feel anxiety about once routine events, they lose impulse control, ignore social norms and lose interest in food and become apathetic. There are medications to help with dementia, but you must be willing to accept the diagnosis to get help, which is difficult for most people.

Below is a behavior checklist that may indicate Alzheimer’s or other dementia:

  • Has the person lost interest in friends, family or home activities?
  • Has the person become less spontaneous and active?
  • Does the person view themselves as a burden to family?
  • Has the person become more anxious or worried about things that are routine?
  • Does the person feel tense or shaky or show symptoms of panic?
  • Has the person become agitated, aggressive, irritable or temperamental?
  • Does the person hoard objects when they did not before?
  • Has the person developed trouble regulating smoking, alcohol, drug intake or gambling? Started shoplifting?
  • Does the person say rude or crude things or make lewd sexual remarks that they would not have said before?
  • Has the person started talking about very personal or private matters not usually discussed in public?
  • Has the person developed beliefs that others are planning to harm them or steal their belongings?
  • Does the person see things or hear voices?

I encourage you to seek help from a doctor if you have been experiencing these behaviors for more than six months. Sometimes stress or bereavement can also cause these types of behaviors, but they are usually temporary. I also encourage you to seek help from an attorney who deals in elder law so they may prepare powers of attorney and other estate planning documents so you have help when you need it and your wishes are in writing. I have many clients who come to see me after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Sometimes they wait years after the diagnosis before they seek help, and oftentimes it is too late to help them because they cannot understand legal concepts. Do not be embarrassed about this diagnosis; take control and address the situation immediately after diagnosis, if not before.

Tamra K. Waltemath

Tamra K. Waltemath

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships. She can be contacted at: Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO 80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at: www.WaltemathLawOffice.com.

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