Memory Loss... Is it normal, or the beginnings of Alzheimer's?

As people age, it's normal to have occasional memory problems, such as forgetting the name of a person you've recently met. However, Alzheimer's is more than occasional memory loss. It's a disease that causes brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die. When this happens, an individual may forget the name of a longtime friend, or what roads to take to return to a home they've lived in for decades.

It can be difficult to tell normal memory problems from memory problems that should be a cause for concern. The Alzheimer's Association has developed information to help you tell the difference. If you or a loved one has memory problems or other problems with thinking and learning that concern you, contact a physician. Sometimes the problems are caused by medication side effects, vitamin deficiencies or other conditions and can be reversed with treatment. The memory and thinking problems may also be caused by another type of dementia.

We are all forgetful from time to time. Given the growing attention to Alzheimer's in the news these days, many of us, especially senior citizens, have a nagging worry about it. Could it be happening to us? Could we be getting Alzheimer's?

Here are the most often cited list of signs of Alzheimer's Disease as posted from the Alzheimer's Association:

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality

In reading this list, you should consider a couple of things. 

First is that the severity and frequency of a given symptom is important. For example, if a person is an accountant and becomes completely unable to balance the checkbook this may be reason for concern. But occasionally making an error while working on the checkbook is probably not something you should worry about. The second thing is that, as mentioned above, the symptoms of Alzheimer's typically disrupt daily life while signs of normal aging usually do not.

With normal aging, we may forget where we parked at the mall, but with Alzheimer's we may forget how we got to the mall. Forgetting the names of people you rarely see can be normal, while forgetting the names of people close to you can be an early sign of Alzheimer's.
Misplacing things from time to time may be normal. But putting things in very unusual places and accusing others of stealing them could be of concern. I give the following example: If you put your glasses in a desk drawer when you normally put them on the top of the desk, that's one thing. But putting them in the freezer or on a high shelf in the garage or in a suitcase kept in the basement is another altogether.

Here are two circumstances that you might experience that may lead you to contact your doctor. First, if you are experiencing the type of memory issues indicated above as possible signs of Alzheimer's, it would be a good idea to write examples down and take it to a neurologist or family physician. Second, even if you aren't having such memory problems, but you're still overly worried about your memory, it might be worth a trip to the doctor. In the very least, it will ease your mind of worries that may turn out to be nothing!

Ways to Prevent Falls-Be Proactive!

Falls are a common occurrence with Seniors.  A study done among Seniors found that preventing falls, and the resulting injuries from these falls, can reduce or delay the need to move to a long-term care facility.  In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury death among older adults.  Here are a few tips to help you gain confidence to maintain your independence.  

Health and age related changes often attribute to falls.  Some of these include problems with balance, slow reflexes, poor eyesight, and use of certain medication.  If you are aware of these changes occurring, make sure that you take precautions while being mobile.  

Dangerous situation in the homes also attribute to falls.  To prevent this from happening, assess your living situation and take proactive measures to ensure your safety.  Some things to be aware of in your home are slippery floors, poor lighting, electrical cords in pathways, loose rugs, raised thresholds, and clutter.  Try these tips to help make the inside of your home safe:

Remove all extraneous clutter in your home.  Keep telephone and electrical cords out of pathways.  Tack rugs and glue vinyl flooring so they lie flat.  Remove or replace rugs or runners that tend to slip or attach non-slip backing.  Do not stand on chairs to reach for things.  Store frequently used items where you can conveniently reach them.  Keep a well-lit home, inside and out!  Use nightlights and keep flashlights handy. Install handrails on both sides of the stairs to keep you steady.   

In your bathroom, add grab bars in the shower, tub, and toilet area.  Use non-slip adhesive strips inside the shower or tub.  Consider getting a stool or bench to use in the shower.  

For outside of your home, paint the outdoor steps with a mixture of sand and paint for better traction.  Keep outdoor walkways clear, and well-lit.  Make sure snow and ice are kept clear from entrances and sidewalks.  

We hope that these tips have been useful in making your home as safe as possible for you.  Our ultimate goal is to keep people safely in their homes, and help them maintain their independence as long as possible!

A good example of the way to maintain                                                  A bad example of how to maintain                a room                                                                                                           a room.                                                                                                                       


Tips for Seniors on How to keep your Mind and Body Healthy

With the warm weather so close you can almost feel it, we thought we would take the time to post about the importance of exercise.  Physical activity plays a significant role in seniors' health and quality of life.  Daily physical exercise not only helps maintain an active life style but effectively prevents multiple diseases.  Exercise is also good for seniors' mind, mood, and memory.   Without enough exercise, seniors may gradually lose their strength and their ability to stay independent.  Regular exercise can build strength and stamina, which reduces the risk of falling.  Some seniors are skeptical about exercising because they are unsure of how much physical activity is the appropriate amount, or what exercise would fit them best.  Here are some tips to get you started!

1.  Pick something that you ENJOY doing.  This will keep you motivated to keep at it!

2.  Try different things.  You might find new passions, and new friends in the process!  Just start out slow with new activities, so you are sure that you are not overextending your abilities.  

3. Try to spend at least 2.5 hours weekly of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, such as swimming or biking.  

4. Add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscles groups at least twice a week, such as lifting weights or yoga. 

5. Start slowly, and listen to your body.  Do not push or stretch yourself too hard. 

6.  Spread out the activities into sessions of 10 minutes or more.  

7. Grab a friend, and make them your exercise partner! This can turn this into a social event, and you can motivate each other!

8. Walk as much as possible.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can!

My tip for today is to go out and smell the flowers! Take a long stroll, and begin to enjoy the weather outside, while also improving your body and your mind!  

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