How do I know if my mom has Alzheimer’s disease? What are some of the early signs of this disease?
Good question, Betty. Many people, including myself, want to know what signs to look for. For wisdom on this subject I went to the wonderful resource, Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Frank Broyles is Athletic Director Emeritus for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. His wife, Barbara, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Frank says, “I had many questions and spent a lot of time looking for answers. What I learned is contained in my book, “Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers.”
One of the first topics which Coach Broyles deals with in his book is what signs to look for.
Frank says, the first signs are that your loved one may:
- Misplace her keys or put her glasses in an unusual place.
- Look up a recipe, but not be able to follow it.
- Start something and forget to finish it.
- Have a hard time keeping up with tasks she has done every day of her adult life.
Another clue may be if your loved one stops doing things she has always enjoyed, such as:
- Meeting friends to play cards or bingo
- Helping out at church
- Leaving the house by herself to shop or visit friends
Many people don’t know they should see a doctor when they see some of these signs. This is tragic because there are drugs your doctor can prescribe that will slow down how quickly Alzheimer’s disease causes damage in the brain.
The one thing that usually gets families to the doctor is when their loved one gets lost coming home from work or the store. This is very common. When this happens, your loved one may begin to worry about the other things she is having a hard time doing. She may:
- Begin to limit how much she is around other people
- Become sad or draw into herself
- Stop doing things she has loved to do all of her life
- Stop talking to you
This is a good time to see a doctor and find out what is going on.
Coach Broyles cautions that, “Some family doctors don’t have the extra training needed to find the cause of your loved one’s memory loss. They may say it is just “old age” and “you should not worry about it.” Please don’t stop there. It takes a doctor with special training to find the cause of memory loss. There may be doctors with this training in your area. Your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter can help you”
Thank you Coach Broyles for sharing your wisdom with us.
For more information on Coach Broyles’ work within the Alzheimer’s community visit, The Broyles Foundation.