Signs of Alzheimer’s to recognize and keep in mind

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017

As the Bainbridge Rotary Club gets fired up about a planned Walk to End Alzheimer’s they are sponsoring for Saturday, October 21, they called on speaker Dan Phillips for this week’s Rotary program.

Phillips began his work with Alzheimer’s as a volunteer 10 years ago after so many family members were affected by the disease. He is now employed in the Tifton regional office of the Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia.

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He spoke on the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s, and spoke of how it is a type of dementia. It is a progressive illness with no cure that affects 5 million people in America, and is eventually fatal. He calculates that in Georgia the disease affects 140,000 people and projects that by 2025 the number will rise to 190,000. It seems to affect more women than men, and it is believed that is because they tend to live longer than men.

He specified the differences in the 10 signs, such as memory loss that disrupts daily life, being number one. He pointed out there is a difference between forgetting your car keys, which most of us experience, and not knowing what car keys are for. There are challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as how to operate the microwave, confusion with time and place, not knowing where you are or why you area there. Again, most have walked into a room and forgotten why they were there. If they retrace their steps, they remember what their purpose was. The person with Alzheimer’s cannot retrace their steps. They have trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. They are faulty in their judgment of distance, which often results in auto accidents. The person with Alzheimer’s may experience new problems with words in speaking or writing. They cannot find the right word and begin calling things by the wrong name.

The Alzheimer’s patient has decreased, or poor judgment. An example was given of a man who had been a CEO of a large company who went to purchase an automobile that was valued at $8,000; but ended up paying $18,000 when the salesperson took advantage of his condition. It is now a felony to abuse or take advantage of a disabled adult.

The Alzheimer patient may begin to withdraw from work or social activities, as they realize they are slipping and do not want to be embarrassed. They will avoid it, and even lose interest in favorite hobbies.

Changes in mood and personality often occur. The patient may become mean, confused, fearful, suspicious, anxious and easily upset.

Their physical appearances may go down hill, as they do not bathe as often, and are not interested in what they wear or how they look.

Phillips advises if you see a loved one showing these signs to speak with others who know them to see what they have observed; and if there is cause for concern, see a physician. The physician will look at the patient’s history, conduct a physical exam, check the mental status, and do neurological studies and brain scans that are necessary for a diagnosis.

Caretakers needing help with a loved one have resources available to them through the regional offices of the Alzheimer’s Association, where they can receive education, care consultations, and support groups.

The organization sponsors different fundraisers for research purposes. Among these are the Walks to End Alzheimer’s, such as the one planned for Bainbridge in October.  The organization’s vision is, “A World without Alzheimer’s disease.”

For those wishing to know more, call 1.800.272.3900, or visit the website