It is an unfortunate reality that as people age, they also lose some of their physical and mental capacity. In some cases, this decline can seem relatively minor and not impact a person's ability to care for him or herself. However, some people -- possibly even your parent or another loved one -- may face serious decline in mental health due to Alzheimer's disease.
This disease affects a substantial number of people, and in some cases, the early onset of the disease can begin to rob a person of his or her memories far too soon in life. Of course, you certainly do not want to jump to any unnecessary conclusions about your parent's health, but if you have concerns, you may want to consider possible signs of Alzheimer's disease.
Everyone experiences lapses in judgment and memory throughout their lives. However, if your parent begins to show any of the following signs -- especially if he or she is of an older age -- you may have valid reason to worry:
- Lapses in memory that make it difficult to carry out activities in daily life
- Constantly needing reminders or memory aids that he or she did not need before
- Losing track of time and dates
- Feeling confused about how he or she got somewhere
- Misplacing objects and having trouble retracing steps to find them
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Unwillingness to participate in once-loved hobbies or social events
- Personality changes, especially those that result in your parent seeming upset, confused or fearful
- Suddenly having a hard time completing tasks at home or at work
This list does not represent all of the early signs of Alzheimer's disease. If you do recognize these or any others that cause you to worry, it is likely in the best interests of your parent to have him or her evaluated by a medical professional. This evaluation can help reach a diagnosis to determine whether Alzheimer's, another form of dementia or a different issue may be affecting your loved one.
Taking legal action
In addition to having your loved one evaluated by a doctor, you may also need to take steps to encourage him or her to address estate-planning documents. If he or she no longer has the mental capacity to create legal documents or refuses to do so, you may need to take it upon yourself to seek a conservatorship over your loved one in hopes of protecting his or her finances from poor judgment or from unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of a vulnerable person.