I'm busy, stressed, and misplacing things. Is this a warning sign of Alzheimer's?


Q: I have been so busy and stressed out lately and am often misplacing things. Is that a warning sign of Alzheimer's?

A: One of the ten warning signs of Alzheimer's is not only misplacing things, but finding them in odd places where you don't remember putting them is. We all misplace our keys, but have you ever found them in the microwave—someplace you would have never put them? That's the difference.

My father misplaced all kinds of things that I would eventually find in odd places. One time he put the pencil sharpener and stapler in his accordion case and then emphatically denied he did it. I didn't understand dementia yet and what was starting to happen to him—so I just thought he was trying to drive me crazy!

Also, you mention that you have been busy and under a lot of stress, which could account for your being distracted with so much on your mind. Print out these warning signs below and keep track of any you notice in yourself. If you record numerous examples, ask your doctor for a mini mental state exam to begin the evaluation.

The Alzheimer's Association's Warning Signs of Alzheimer's:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Problems with language
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgment
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Changes in personality
  • Loss of initiative

Jacqueline Marcell cared for her elderly parents with Alzheimer's disease and authored "Elder Rage." She hosts the internet radio program "Coping With Caregiving." Read her full biography

Jacqueline Marcell is a former television executive who was so compelled by caring for her elderly parents (both with early Alzheimer's not diagnosed for over a year) she wrote "Elder Rage." She is also an international speaker on elder care and host of the popular Internet radio program "Coping With Caregiving."

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As long as you go in with your eyes open, you should do fine. Your tag says banijoman, I'm going to assume you are male. Do you remember how any of your girlfriends felt when she was raising a newborn? That's a good guide to how you may feel taking care of your father if you don't PLAN AHEAD.

Unfortunately, you CANNOT do this alone. Educate yourself: read all you can about what ever form of dementia your dad has. Hook up with a caregiver's group: don't let the fact that everyone else is a woman keep you from attending. Find an online community, like this one to find answers for complications.

Above all, schedule time for yourself. Care giving is an all consuming job. You will never "find time" for yourself. Schedule it ans stick to it. There are agencies that provide in-home care for hours, days, and weeks. Find them and try them out. Do not let your father be the judge of whether or not they are suitable - or none of them ever will be.

Remember, your father is going to die. The goal is to arrive at that point with your health and mental state good enough for you to enjoy the rest of your life. Yes, the Commandment is "Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long upon the earth." This means that you have the right to assure your own survival above and beyond your duty to care for him - however much you love him.

Blessings on you and good luck.
I am the sole caregiver for my elderly father, who is 91 years old. I am retired, single and willing to assume this responsibility