Monday, June 29, 2009

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's -- Sign No. 10

In the past posts I have reviewed some of the most common symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer's. This is the last in series of warning signs, but it is important to understand that each individual is different. Each person challenged with dementia in any of its forms will not necessarily have all of the symptoms, nor will they progress in each symptom at the same rate as someone else with the same problems. The warning signs are just that, a warning that something might be wrong. If you or one of your circle of concern have any of the symptoms it is a call to take action. Some of the conditions described previously can put the impaired person in deadly danger, not from Alzheimer's but from the effects of the disease. In the Phoenix area, where I live, if an impaired person wanders outside during the summer, they might not live long enough to get help. There are many other situations, like heat in the summer or cold in the winter, that might occur.

The last of the 10 Warning Signs is one of the most difficult to detect, that is changes in mood and or personality. This issue is much more than being irritated at a change in schedule or routine, it is a complex change in the way the person interacts with others. One of the most difficult changes to deal with from a care giver standpoint is paranoia. The Alzheimer's sufferer may misplace common objects and immediately jump to the conclusion that they have been stolen. Since they are having difficulty managing their finances, they may become fearful that someone, even a loved one, is stealing their money. This obsession can go so far that they will start putting money in odd places for safekeeping and then forget where it was located.

As an attorney, I have been regularly called to interview a prospective client who is certain that her money is being stolen. Unfortunately, this is sometimes true, financial exploitation does occur, but more frequently the money or savings are intact and the person is marginally demented.

The personality changes can cause great embarrassment and discomfort to those associated with the impaired person. They may have outbursts of anger for apparently no reason. They may be found hiding in a corner afraid to move. They may call the police regularly to report intruders.

All of these symptoms are just that, symptoms. Some of them may be confused with the typical age-related issues. But if the change becomes regular and repetitive, there may be a problem.

Particularly in the legal and financial areas, it is best to get your finances in order with proper wills and trusts before the impairment becomes too great.


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