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Am I Getting Alzheimer’s Or Just Overloaded?

by Debbie Mandel

As we get older, we have more life information to store. Like a computer with numerous files, the directory becomes full and the brain needs to delete some files in order to make room for new ones. While thinking about a project, or worrying about children, I might have a little trouble concentrating, forget where I put my keys, where I parked the car, and confuse my children’s names. When do these symptoms combine to become a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s versus being artistic or overwhelmed?

When I discuss the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in my workshops, inevitably I hear rumblings from the audience, “Oh,” or “That’s me!” However, I want everyone to know that even my teenage daughter forgets where she put her scarf, her keys, her notebooks, and especially relaying a message meant for me! When do these instances point to Alzheimer’s and when are they caused by: distracted behavior, depression, lack of sleep, stress or vitamin B, folate or zinc deficiency?

Here are some symptoms that vary from person to person. Only you and your family can decide what they mean. However, if they affect your life quality, consider them more seriously and seek a consultation with a neurologist, or geriatric psychiatrist. Should you find yourself or a family member in the early stages of Alzheimer’s there are medications that can help you prolong the early stages and improve life quality.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  • Memory loss - losing things, phone numbers and names you used to know and which you don’t remember a little while later
  • Misplacing things often, especially in strange places
  • Problems with common everyday tasks like balancing the check book and driving
  • Problems finding the right words
  • Can’t remember time, place, date for routines
  • Poor judgment like dressing inappropriately for the weather
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Having trouble pronouncing certain words, or saying the letter “L”
  • Changes in motor coordination, loss of reflexes, a change in gait
  • Crying a great deal, or nervous laughter - laughter at inappropriate times
  • Extremes in personality
  • Agitation, restlessness, waking up in the middle of the night
  • Loss of concentration. Giving up intellectual pursuits like reading, or projects, covering up with, “it’s time to retire.”

Some people have been absent minded professors all their lives. As we age, things get intensified. The key to differentiating between Alzheimer’s and eccentricity is change. Has the person changed dramatically? In that case a check-up is in order. Our greatest fear according to Carl Jung is to confront ourselves…

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the Alzheimer's host at For additional articles on Alzheimer's please visit . She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIE 540AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: