When I am speaking to groups about dementia, the nervous energy in the room increases, while discussing the early warning signs of dementia. There is a growing concern about, “What is normal?” Most people believe, or at least want to believe, that poor memory is just a natural part of aging.
Reported by the Boston Globe’s online paper, “… the views of those 50 and older … showed higher concerns overall about independence and mental sharpness…”
Why do we fear dementia? We know that, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5 million Americans living with the disease. If that statistic doesn’t increase the blood pressure of everyone over 40, just look at the newest concern; there are now 200,000 individuals UNDER the age of 65 coping with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. **** The fear hits at the very core, because we understand dementia has the ability to take away our independence and our mental sharpness.
What is normal? The foundational understanding of what are the normal cognitive changes is simply the slowing of our retrieval of information but does not affect our abilities for overall function or activities of daily living. The processing speed changes; simply stated, we can expect that it will take more time to think things through, there will be more effort required to learn new things, and occasionally, we may have difficulty remembering something – BUT the tasks can and will be eventually completed.
Take the time; make the effort to know the 10 signs. Early detection matters!