Lauren Livingston, spokeswoman for the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, says there are often clear signs a person may be developing one of the most common forms of dementia.
“The main one is memory loss that disrupts their daily life,” Livingston says. “Forgetting things they have known their whole life, like how to use the microwave or how to get home from the grocery store, things like that that would be very unusual for someone to forget.”
The association estimates 66,000 Iowans are now living with Alzheimer’s and Livingston says many will show similar symptoms of a failing memory.
“Challenges in solving problems like simple math, figuring out the tip on a bill, things like that,” Livingston says, “or difficulty just completing daily tasks like they would do normally, like getting dressed or taking a shower, having confusion with things they are normally familiar with.”
They also many not recognize people with whom they’re ordinarily familiar. So how does one tell if a loved one’s memory loss is just typical forgetfulness or if it’s the harbinger of a real problem.
“One thing that’s kind of a key indicator would be seeing these signs over and over and over or every time you talk to a loved one on the phone and they’re forgetting the same thing that you shared multiple times,” Livingston says. “Seeing that pattern of forgetting things and things that they have done their whole lives or they’ve known their whole lives and they’re forgetting.”
The Alzheimer’s Association Helpline is a vital resource for concerns about cognitive changes affecting a loved one. The number, 800-272-3900, is staffed around the clock every day, even holidays.