Q&A: Do I have dementia, too?

This question was posed on a support forum for people working with memory problems (family, professionals, anyone interested in memory issues and memory care). It’s not an uncommon question. In fact, many people who are close to someone with dementia worry that they are also showing signs of the degenerative syndrome. And it’s also known that people who care for someone with dementia tend to have more health risks and higher rates of depression – also risk factors for developing dementia. While depression, chronic lack of sleep, and stress can cause symptoms that can be mistaken for dementia, there are distinct differences. The takeaway:  dementia is not only about memory loss!

You can read more about that in my posts on

Does Your Workplace Allow for Caregiving?

Impact on Family Care Partners

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

Want to help reduce the stress of a family carer? Check out my tips in Helping the Helpers

Question:

Every time I set my keys down in the wrong place and forget where l set them down, I’m convinced I have Alzheimer’s like my aunt and sister. My doctor keeps reassuring me I don’t show any signs of it when I go for checkups, and she runs the tests by me at my request. Is it normal to be so worried about getting it, too? Do other close relatives of patients feel like I do or am I just too much of a worry wart?

I replied with:

It is completely normal to worry. But dementias cause more symptoms than just forgetting – things like changes in personality, difficulty with motor skills (buttoning or zippers on clothes, tying shoes), not being able to follow a conversation or movie when you are listening are warning signs that something is changing in the brain.

If you are a family care partner and feel your health (psychological and/or physical) might be suffering, try this free online assessment through Caregiverstress.com.

It’s important to know how stress is affecting you. Use this Family Caregiver Distress Assessment to identify the things that might make caregiving more challenging for you, and what you can do to address those challenges.

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