Certified Dementia Practitioner Amy Schenk joins Suzanne from Cape Coral, Florida, courtesy of Athira Pharma to talk about the difference between normal memory issues as a result of aging and abnormal issues, and indicators to watch for. What happens to our brains as we age normally, as well as what happens when it’s not so normal. If you are seeing things that are different in the person you’re concerned about, things that make you think “That’s not like them,” listen to your intuition.
Lead image courtesy of Pexels/Anna Shvets
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
The following podcast is provided by a theme reformer and answers for elders radio and welcome back everyone to the answers for elder’s radio network, herd, on your favorite podcast platform, as well as on U KGMW A M and fifty nine am on in Seattle in western Washington, and we are also here with the wonderful Amy Shank Um. She is with us. She’s a certified dementia practitioner and amy, it’s been such a joy sharing this hour with you. Um, you are inspirational, my friend, and that’s hard to say when we’re talking about a difficult conversation like Alzheimer’s Um, but there’s so many things that we can do to stay emotionally healthy and as we’re aging, obviously there’s a there’s a process that our brains go through, and I really would love to talk to you, since you are such an expert on this topic, what happens to our brain as we age normally as well, is what happens if it’s not so normal, because obviously we don’t necessarily remember things like we used to. I know I don’t sometimes. Yeah, well, absolutely. Thank you for your kind board, Susanne. I think one of the things and particularly as we get to be a woman of a certain age, just start thinking, oh my gosh, I mean, can I remember anything? So I’m going to touch on some of the most common things that people see, but I also want to direct people to a LZ Dot Org. You can look up the ten warning signs and you get a great overview of the things that again, what I like to say is, when in doubt, check it out. But here’s a couple of key things that kind of under kind of under undergird everything. I’m gonna say if you are seeing things that are different in the person you’re concerned about, things that are different, things that make you go, you know, that’s just not like them, or wow, that just seems really different, listen to your intuition. Listen to your intuition. The other thing that I think is important is to kind of take notes about what you see. Doesn’t need to be a novel, but if you’re concerned, again, if you’re antenna, are are what I call your antenna are twanging, there’s a reason. It doesn’t mean that the person you’re concerned about has Alzheimer’s and dementia. It means there’s something that needs to get checked out because what we know, there are so many things that can cause memory laws that have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We talked about lack of sleep. How about if you get a new medication, maybe a side effect is it can be memory issues or medications that interact. If we have a high, uh chronic condition, so diabetes or high hypertension that are out of control, if we have heart disease and all of those things. Whether we like it or not, Suzanne, as our body ages, the whole body ages, so of course there are going to be some changes that happen in our memory. Yeah, but a critical component is that significant changes and one’s ability to think, process information, understand all of the things that the brain does, which is, quite frankly, much more than just memory. Those are not normal. So how many times have we get ready to leave for the day and you can’t find your keys or your purse or your wallet or your phone? Sound familiar? Okay, it happens to me every day. It happens in our whole hope every day. We all do that and I tend to think that, you know what, the more we have on our mind and if you’re a busy person and you’ve got a lot of things you’re thinking about, which is pretty much everybody nowadays. You know you’re prone to kind of forgetting where you put things. So a tip for that is everything in its place, in a place for everything. For chickularly like me in the morning, because I don’t move real fast. I gotta have a grab and go. Something that I’d be more concerned with. Woe is if I said to you, well, Gosh, Susanne, where did you put your keys? And you said, well, what are you talking about? It’s the inability to sometimes even realize that perhaps you can’t find your keys. It’s the inability to retrace our stuff. So how many of us have put things and the first thing you think of it, don’t gone it. Where did I have it last and you go back, guess what, it’s right where you left it. We have the ability to do that. People who are having changes in the brain that need to get checked out may not have the ability to retrace some stuff. All of us have times where maybe we have something on the tip of our tongue and we can’t remember it right, and you’re just like I wish I would have remembered that I was talking to Susanne. People with changes that need to get checked out. Are some significant changes perhaps in one’s ability to kind of share a co piece of thought. We all can trail off at times, but usually we get back to the point. Sometimes with this this situation again and it’s unusual and it’s not like them. Check it out. The other thing that I think is really sometimes we don’t even realize it. Again, the brain isn’t just for memory. Our brain is mission control. So we do so many things automatically. So, for example, Suzanne, when you sent me the single appointment, I knew that I had to get my computer, I had to be ready, I had I knew when buttons to Click so that I could that I could be part of your show. Those things come automatically and what we find with the disease sometimes is those steps are really hard to actually remember. You’re not on autopilot. Things like planning, those things can be can be challenging. Changes in mood behavior one of the things, and I like to caution people that some of these symptoms can also look a lot like depression. So changes in how we feel, that we’re not all perky every day but when people say to me, and this is to me, this is a red flag amy. You don’t understand. My wife and I have been married over fifty years and my wife is the sweetest woman I have ever known and she’s not the same. This woman yells at me, she’s actually trying to hit me. This is not my wife or husband, brother, partner. So those things that make you go this is weird, and I don’t mean that it’s a disrespectful way. It’s unusual. Take note of it. And the other thing, Suzanne, people seem to think is, well, you know what, mom had a couple of bad days, but she’s better now. You always want to focus on the days that are not the good days and what hopeful people do right, because we don’t want are the people we care about to have memory issues or to have this disease. No one wants it. So sometimes I think our own emotional protection kind of keeps us in a little bit of a bubble and I might say, well, you know, I forget things too. I mean my mom. Okay, well, maybe she got mixed up. We make excuses, not from any type of malicious place, but we’re hopeful right. The last thing we want to be able to. We want to say is, oh my gosh, I think my mom has Alzheimer’s disease, because sometimes that’s just those words are hard to speak. So to your point, when you’re concerned, if things seem out of character, the reason I asked you to jot it down is that that can be very helpful. But your loved one goes to the position it gets checked up. I don’t know, Susanne, if you’ve ever had the experience where people will say, well, there’s something wrong with my memory, you’re the problem, which can be very characteristic with Alzheimer’s disease, and so many times to people go, oh my gosh, my mom’s in denial. No, I want you to reframe that. Your mom may have a brain disease and because of the brain disease, she truly doesn’t think there’s anything wrong, where you have significant logical evidence that there is. So you have to really be Um, and I say this in a kind of way, kind of dance around that a little bit. If I said to you, Susanne, what is wrong with you? I told you four times that we were going to do the event today. I mean, don’t you ever write anything down? I mean, I think you have Alzheimer’s, just like mom. Well, how did that feel? It didn’t feel good. So the way we approach it again always has to be from our concern and what we know of our loved one. So if, Suzanne, you are my sister, I’m maybe saying you know, I haven’t noticed anything, anything wrong. I’m just a little worry I love you so much. Come from a place of love and you know, I I know that that sounds easy, but the last thing you want to do is upset someone you love who maybe having memory issues, and nobody likes to be told what’s wrong with you. Right. So very delicate conversation and you can get some great tips at at the Alzheimer’s a LC dot org. Lots of information on the caregiver site, because no one situation is like anywhere any other. And and you know it’s interesting too, because you’re demensia practitioner. We are talking about Alzheimer’s, but it can if there’s different forms of dementias, such as Um I know that my mom had vascular dementia, and so she definitely she was more into the Paranoias, like like all of a sudden, this custody you know this janitor is coming in to mop her floor and immediately my mom just goes panicked that they’re snipped snooping through her things and it’s like this was not my mom before, but I could see it was different with different forms of dementia. So one of the things I think that’s really important that we talked about is it may not be Alzheimer’s Um it may be vascular dementia, it may be, you know, Parkinson’s disease, any other types of brain help. You know issues, and I’m sure that that’s the only reason. I just wanted to throw that in, because we are talking about all but there may be signs that it’s that it’s still something wrong, but it may be something different. If people have hearing issues, if people aren’t able to hear what you say, they may respond in its totally exactly exactly, may not do what you’re asking them to do. So there are a lot of there are a lot of mitigating factors, just as you’re absolutely which gets me back to one in doubt, check it out. If there are things, if there are conditions that can be addressed. For Heaven’s sakes, you want to be able to do that and what I hear many times is, and I and I’ve heard this from our team at our center, is many times it’s not Alzheimer’s or even another dementia. It may be something else, and your brains too important. Yeah, yeah, absolutely so, amy, we’re gonna come back for the our last segment today and we’re gonna WE’RE gonna talk to caregivers, those of you that are caring for a loved one or concern for a loved one. We’re gonna be your coaches this last segment of our this hour of how is the best way to kind of position yourself? How you know what’s the signs if you’re concerned or have burnout or anything like that? But in the meantime, we encourage you to check out. Absolutely, when in doubt, check it out. There’s also information that you can learn about the cutting edge research that’s going on with Alzheimer’s right now, and that is to go to lift a D trial dot com. That’s www dot lift a d trial, and we’re excited to learn more. M from amyche right after this, we it answers for elders. Thank you for listening. Did you know that you can discover hundreds of podcasts in our library on senior care. So visit our website and discover our decision guides that will help you also navigate decision making. Find US AT ANSWERS FOR ELDERS DOT COM. No
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Originally published September 11, 2022