7/5/2010 15:54

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

The Green Bay Sun arrived in the mail the other day. It's only an advertiser ("Private Party Classifieds Up to 20 Words $10/1st Week") so the lead story is invariably an advertisement. This week the front page was given over to fund-raising for the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk.

All well and good, except that they filled the space with the Top Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease.

(1) Memory changes that disrupt daily life. This item is not too big a concern. Lots of things are disrupting my daily life, but I'm not aware that changes in memory are among them.

(2) Challenges in planning or solving problems. Challenges ... aren't they the essence of planning and problem solving? How can having challenges be a warning sign of impending dementia? Actually, my worry has been more along the lines of whether I can retire and still have sufficient challenge to keep myself involved and attentive.

(4) Confusion with time or place. Does this include rushing off to my volunteer position at the Salvation Army's Homework Help Club 2 hours early? At least I went to the correct location that time. Sometimes when I'm walking my dog I'll look up and say, 'Where are we?' The dog laughs at me.

(3) Difficulty completing familiar tasks. In the past, I have been able to maintain numerical order.

(5) Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. What direction does Deckner Avenue run, anyway? If I head east on Main Street, Deckner crosses. If I head east on the Baird Creek bike trail, Deckner is parallel.

(6) New problems with words in speaking or writing. I'm OK here; all my word problems are old ones. At least all the ones I can rememeber.

(7) Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. All afternoon I've been pondering where I put a clothespin-based reindeer figure that used to be on the wall in the kitchen before the painter came. At least I remember that the painters did come and that I put the reindeer ... somewhere.

(8) Decreased or poor judgement. Whether my judgement has decreased is uncertain, but I can list numerous examples of poor judgement. One obvious one was the choice to read, and then worse to think about this list of warning signs.

(9) Withdrawal from work or social activities. It's uncanny, like they know me. Yes, I have been thinking about withdrawing from work.

(10) Changes in mood and personality. That idea of withdrawing from paid employment has affected my mood, increasing anxiety and distractedness. The idea of stayed employed in my current situation also affects my mood, mostly toward fear and depression.