SOUTHWEST FLA. — Is your loved one having trouble remembering things? BrightStar Care said there are ways to differentiate if you're seeing the early signs of dementia, or typical forgetfulness that comes with aging.
In late summer of 2020, Fox 4 Anchor Lisa Greenberg's Grandma said her husband Stanley was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.
“The Neuropsychologist said, 'Yes, this is dementia, it is progressive, it's not going to get any better,'” Terry Wilgus Knisely said.
She said it was devastating.
“Watching the person you love become a different person,” she said.
Terry said she noticed those changes starting in 2017. Stanley had forgotten how to get to a lunch spot in his hometown they'd been to several times over the years.
“He said, 'No, I'm not kidding, I really can't remember how to get there.' I just worried that that's very strange," Terry said.
“Forgetfulness may be a normal part of the aging process," Susan Nimnuan, the Vice President of BrightStar Care in Fort Myers & Naples, said.
BrightStar Care is an in-home care agency.
“Forgetting what day it is but being able to recall that, that's normal. Forgetting what day it is, and also not knowing what season it is, that's something to be concerned about," she said.
Terry said when Stanley forgot how to get to the restaurant that day, her antenna was out, picking up other things.
“Unable to remember names that he should remember," she said.
“Forgetting a word is definitely normal. Where you want to focus is when they're forgetting a conversation, or they're not able to hold a conversation, or it's kind of changing back and forth from a time frame. We see that a lot," Nimnuan said.
Terry said that exact thing would happen with Stanley.
“I would be navigating, and we would, for example, be on the interstate. And I would say, 'OK, get over because the next exit, we're going to have to get off,' and he'd get over. And then we'd drive right by the next exit. And I would say, 'You missed the exit.' And he was like, 'Well, you didn't tell me,'" Terry recalled.
Nimnuan said people with dementia struggle with the now.
“They're going to struggle with what they did yesterday or today, but they're still going to be able to tell you a story from their career, their childhood or back in the day," she said.
“He could remember things way back. But the short term memory was what was becoming a problem,” Terry said.
Nimnuan also said as we age, our brain shrinks and it becomes harder to learn or retain new things. But people with dementia have trouble even understanding those new things.
For more information on Alzheimer's Disease and the resources available, you can call the Alzheimer's Association's 24/7 helpline: 1 (800) 272-3900.