After speaking with doctors and reading up on dementia, I now realize there were some early signs that my mother’s mind was in trouble. But most of the symptoms were things we chalked up to age or and dismissed as goofy parts of her personality. Little annoyances we brushed off. Looking back, these seem to have been my mother’s earliest and most deceptive Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Constantly misplacing her keys and cell phone
It was a running joke in our family, but in the context of dementia, this kind of chronic absent-mindedness was probably more than a bad habit. Misplacing things is one of the earliest signs of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Of course, everyone loses their phone, keys, or other small items from time to time, but when the frequency is almost daily, it could be a sign of a bigger problem.
Asking for the same information repeatedly
If I were coming to visit my mother in a week, I’d have to field the same questions daily leading up to my trip. One of them would inevitably be, “Which train are you taking?” This unrelenting line of questioning was frustrating, of course, but it should have been alarming. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, chronic forgetfulness and asking for the same information over and over is a warning sign. Forgetting conversations is another, according to Helpguide.org. Requiring the same information a few times can be attributed to normal aging, but when the information won’t stick on a daily basis, it could be more serious.
Photo compliments of Unsplashed
Avoiding social interactions
My mother has been outgoing her entire life and has numerous close friends. When she moved out of state with my father 10 years ago, she began avoiding social situations, though, especially if it meant meeting new people. As we later learned, social isolation is a red flag.
Never getting the lay of the land
When my mother moved from the place she’d lived her whole life to the new town, she never quite figured out how to get around—and she loved to be out and about. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, having trouble driving to a familiar location is an early symptom of dementia. If my mother’s disease had taken root around the time she relocated, it makes sense that she would have trouble retaining this new information.
If you suspect a loved one might be experiencing the early signs of dementia, experts recommend trying to persuade that person to see a doctor right away. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, medications and treatments are available to slow the progression of the disease when addressed early.