April 26, 2021
Forgetfulness is common to most of us, but when it becomes extreme and interferes with daily functioning we frail humans need to sit up and take notice.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading, largest, and most recognized non-profit American volunteer health organization which focuses on care, support and research for Alzheimer’s disease. According to their website, there are ten early signs and symptoms of the disease.
- 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. (For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.)
- New problems with words in speaking or writing. (People living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name.)
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
- Decreased or poor judgment (or decision-making).
- Withdrawal from work or social activities (he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements).
- Changes in mood and personality. (Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.)
There is a 24/7 HELPLINE (800.272.3900) to call for more information.
What is the motivation for this alert? The author’s brother-in-law, a brilliant career US Air Force aircraft navigator, suffered and passed away from this dreaded disease. His slow and steady decline was detected by all of the family and it was an appalling situation to helplessly watch him deteriorate. Numerous other acquaintances have suffered from this ailment also. It is hard to watch. There are medical treatments that can slow and minimize the progress of this malady that can be explored with specialist medical doctors.
The question arises for the readership of being on the lookout for these signs in private and public figures. It is up to each of us who care about our fellow human beings to be aware of the signs, watch for their effect on others, and have the courage to gently intercede with the affected soul with the facts.
James M. Hoover, CACM
Captain, USAF (Retired)