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Life Lessons: Warning signs of dementia

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 11 2013 04:00:00 AM CST

We all have moments when we forget things, but as we age how can we tell what is normal and what is a red flag?

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

We all have moments when we forget things, but as we age how can we tell what is normal and what is a red flag?

How can we recognize the early warning signs of dementia?

Dubbed by many as a “silver tsunami,”advanced age is the greatest known risk factor for the disease, which results in loss of memory and other intellectual functions, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Estimates are we will see a 40 percent increase in the number of people with Alzhiemer's disease in just the next 15 years.

Cases are expected to triple by 2050.

Health care experts say the best thing you can do is learn the warning signs of dementia and take action early.

Carol Kester, director of social services for Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center says," It's so important that if you're noticing early warning signs that you see your physician and talk with your doctor."

Kester cares for people in one of Phoebe's memory support neighborhoods, which is recognized by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America as a Program of Distinction.

She says the more we know, the better prepared we can be.

"For some, it's getting lost in their own neighborhood or community. Trouble with finances, bank statements paying bills," says Kester.

Kester says to look for any memory loss that disrupts daily life such as:

*   Difficulty completing familiar tasks
*   Confusion with time or place

But also look for:

*   Changes in mood and personality
*   Trouble understanding visual images and spacial relationships
*   Problems with words when speaking or writing and
*   Poor judgement


Kester says to get help because some dementia is reversible.

"There's reversible dementia or memory loss. For example, if someone has a vitamin deficiency. if someone is depressed, medication complications, when one medication conflicts with another."

Even a urinary tract infection, she says, can mimic dementia.

She also says if a person is diagnosed early, he or she can prepare for the future.

Phoebe Ministries will offer free, confidential memory screenings on November 19.

Screenings will be held from 1-6 p.m. at Assumption Parish, 4101 Old Bethlehem Pike, Bethlehem, and should take about 10 minutes.

Call 610-794-MIND (6463) to save a space or to find out more.