3051236_lHow do you distinguish a senior moment from the early stages of Alzheimer’s? It is typical to forget details and take longer to complete routine tasks as we age, but when memory loss begins to impact daily life, it may be time to talk to your doctor an evaluate whether dementia could be to blame.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in mental function, effecting memory and reasoning skills.

Here are a few ways to help determine a senior moment from signs of Alzheimer’s.

  • Frequently showing poor judgment and decision making is a sign of Alzheimer’s whereas occasionally making bad choices can be chalked up to a senior moment.
  • The difference is a senior missing a bill payment, but still being able to maintain a monthly budget.
  • A senior moment is losing track of the days of the week, not what year or season it is.
  • It is forgetting a name temporarily in conversation, but being able to carry on a conversation with little difficulty.
  • It is common at any age to misplace objects, but in most instances we are able to retrace our steps and locate them. With Alzheimer’s, seniors are not able to retrace their steps and often place the objects in illogical places.

There are a variety of early warning signs that accompany Alzheimer’s disease. The signs include: forgetting recently learned information such as dates or times, challenges in keeping track of monthly bills or following familiar recipes, trouble remembering rules of a game or directions to frequently visited locations, confusion in regards to time, difficultly judging distance or contrast, struggling in conversation, misplacing objects and being unable to trace steps to locate them, using poor judgment, withdrawing from activities and changes in personality.

If your loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s it is important to talk with your doctor to rule out other factors. Depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, alcohol abuse, and vitamin deficiencies can all result in behavior changes. When speaking with your doctor, it is important to be open and honest in answering questions.

In the early stages, Alzheimer’s can be mild and seniors can remain relatively functional. Early diagnosis can give more time to plan ahead and allow seniors to be more involved in future planning. While no one enjoys discussing Alzheimer’s, preparation can make a difference in future plans.

While Alzheimer’s is typically associated with seniors over the age of 65, it can impact individuals at any age. The Alzheimer’s Association provides a number of resources about warming signs, treatment and support. Visit their website at http://www.alz.org/ for more information.