The other day I was watching some young children out playing in the snow. They were running, slipping, falling, getting right back up, and continuing on their way. WOW! Did I feel old! Earlier that day I had also slipped and fallen. True, I was not running and playing and also true, I did not get right back up and continue on my way. I DO remember playing in the snow as a child and being impervious to the cold. I remember my parents yelling at me to zip my coat or to put my hat back on. And making snowballs with no gloves. I’m not really sure when that all changed. I can’t remember the last time I spent a whole afternoon outside, by choice. It seems that the longest amount of time I spend outside now, is the amount of time it takes me to get to my car. (but with the ice — that can be a LONG time)
We all notice “subtle” changes as we grow older. If you are like me, you deny that they signify the fact that you’re not as young as you were. Some we attribute to becoming MATURE. You know, “I’m too mature to go out in the subzero temps to build a snowman”. I seem to accept the physical differences with greater dignity than I do the cognitive differences. I’m okay with not being able to do non-stop cartwheels like I did in my teens. But when I don’t remember an event from my college years, I start to be concerned. I attribute this to reading article after article about Alzheimer’s disease. I find myself “looking” for signs, in myself and in my mother. If either one of us stumbles over a word, I hold my breath for a second or two.
So when is it time to worry about cognitive issues? The Alzheimer Association (alz.org) has compiled a list of 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality
So now when my mom and I can’t remember who stood next to me in my 2nd grade music program, I won’t panic. I don’t mean to make light of Alzheimer’s or any other dementia. If you or a loved one are experiencing memory difficulties-by all means make an appointment to be checked out by your physician. Memory troubles can be caused by many different things and true, one of the things IS Alzheimer’s. But an occasional misplaced set of keys does not automatically signify dementia.
I will continue to keep an eye on my mom’s memory as well as my own. And I will continue to do crossword puzzles and other “brain activities”. But when I can’t remember where I parked at the mall, I’ll give myself a break and just start walking around looking!
Golden Years Planning