Dementia can easily go unrecognized in primary care. However, a neuropsychologist can help to reliably establish whether or not your forgetfulness or behavioral changes are the result of
normal aging or dementia.
Do you know the difference between normal aging and memory loss?
If you are concerned about changes in your ability or the ability of a friend or family member to think, to remember, or to concentrate, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Memory loss: Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of Alzheimer disease. Do you forget things more often and find yourself unable to remember information later?
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks: Do you have difficulty completing or planning everyday tasks? Do you lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call, or playing a game?
3. Problems with language: Do you often forget simple words or substitute unusual words? Is your speech or writing difficult to understand? People with dementia may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for “that thing for my mouth.”
4. Disorientation to time and place: Do you ever get lost in your own neighborhood, forgetting where you are and how you got there? Have you ever been unable to find your way back home?
5. Poor or decreased judgment: Has anyone told you lately that you dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold? Do you ever show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers?
6. Problems with abstract thinking: Do you ever have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, such as forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used?
7. Misplacing things: Do you put things in unusual places, such as the iron in the freezer or your wristwatch in the sugar bowl?
8. Changes in mood or behavior: Do you experience rapid mood swings? Do you go from tears to anger for no apparent reason?
9. Changes in personality: The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. Have you become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a friend or family member?
10. Loss of initiative: Have you become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual? Have you lost interest in your usual activities?
“Do You Know the 10 Warning Signs of Dementia?”
The Alzheimer’s Association website: www.alz.org
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions and you are concerned about changes in your memory or your behavior, call me at 415.339.8616 to discuss whether or not a neuropsychological assessment might be an appropriate way to address your concerns.
An early diagnosis of dementia means you can take advantage of medical treatment that might slow the progression of the disease. It also allows you to plan for the future while you still have the capacity to make important decisions about your life.
I am a psychologist with specialized training in the relationship between the brain and behavior. My services include the comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis of neurological disorders such as:
- Alzheimer’s dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Lewy Body dementia
- Vascular dementia
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Memory loss
- Sleep apnea
- Parkinson’s disease
- Stroke and other acquired brain injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Capacity evaluations