10 warning signs of Alzheimer's
1. Memory loss that affects job skills.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks.
3. Problems with language.
4. Disorientation to time and place.
5. Poor or decreased judgment.
6. Problems with abstract thinking.
7. Misplacing things.
8. Changes in mood or behavior.
9. Changes in personality.
10. Loss of initiative.
Source: Alzheimer's Association. For a copy of Is It Alzheimer's? Warning Signs You Should Know, call the association at (800) 272-3900 or visit the Web site: www.alz.org.
Helps for communicating
• Reduce excess sources of noise.
• Stand within full view.
• Speak slowly, calmly, comfortingly.
• Use short, simple sentences.
• Repeat, and, if necessary, rephrase.
• Avoid quizzing or testing to jog memory.
• Provide information and reassurance.
• Give the person ample time to respond.
• Be patient and encouraging.
• Watch for nonverbal signals of emotion.
• Comb hair, apply lotion or hold hands.
• Sing hymns, read psalms, quote Scripture and say prayers.
Source: Coping, Spring 1999, Mayo Clinic.
Coping advice and inspiration
Through the Wilderness of Alzheimer's: A Guide in Two Voices by Robert and Anne Simpson, Augsburg Fortress, 1999; $14.99.
Dorothy Erickson can't tell one day from another. She lost that ability during a decade-long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Her husband, Berdine, remembers for two. He keeps meticulous track of the days. Four especially stand out.
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