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How to Tell a “Senior Moment” from Alzheimer’s or Dementia

This is the first in a series of guest blogs written by Jo Huey, the Alzheimer’s Advocate®, founder of the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Institute.

Alzheimer's Advocate Jo HueyAccording to a recent study, Alzheimer’s is the second most-feared disease in the U.S., next to cancer. Despite this fear, only 61% of Americans surveyed were aware that Alzheimer’s is an irreversible and fatal illness.

Experts stress the importance of early detection, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a “senior moment” and something more serious.

It’s not uncommon to immediately grow concerned when you or a loved one forgets someone’s name, where you left your keys or where you parked the car. The first thought that pops in your head is, “I hope it isn’t Alzheimer’s.”

The good news is, the very fact you know you’ve forgotten should put your mind at ease. If you had the symptoms of dementia that are serious enough to cause concern, you would probably be less aware that you had forgotten.

There are several things to think about when you experience a “senior moment”:

  • Are you stressed?
  • Are you trying to do too many things at once?
  • How often are these things really happening?

If you are not stressed or overworked, you may consider jotting down how often this is happening to see if there’s a pattern. This may indicate something more serious.

A word of caution, stressing about having something fearfully wrong can place a focus on those symptoms, amplifying them. Documenting them can actually provide a more objective perspective.

Next to each documented “senior moment,” write down what you were doing at the time. This may help reveal the cause of the symptoms is something other than a disease process.

It is also important for you to think through your life pattern. Is this a real change for you, or have you always been distracted or forgetful? If the latter is the case, there is even less reason to be concerned.

If these “senior moments” are truly new and different, you will want to be able to explain why and have some examples to discuss with your physician. Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, education and early detection are critical to receiving the best help possible.

Additional resources:

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of H.H. Franchising Systems, Inc.


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