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Dr. Sandra Petersen Shares the Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

We sat down with memory care expert, Pegasus Senior VP of Health and Wellness Dr. Sandra Petersen, to understand more about the signs of Alzheimer’s. If you’re looking for answers for your loved one, it’s important to be informed.

Before beginning your search for “memory care near me,” get the answers to some common questions about memory loss and how your loved one can benefit from the right care.

Dr. Petersen, what are some of the signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease?

1. Memory loss

Memory loss is among the first symptoms reported by those with Alzheimer’s Disease and by their caregivers. Working memory and long-term declarative memory are affected early in the progression of the disease, producing an individualized pattern of impaired memory functions. Alzheimer’s pathology (ie. brain cell death) circumvents the formation of memories from the molecular level to the framework of neural networks.

2. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations:

Having more difficulty with balance or judging distance, tripping over things at home, or spilling or dropping things more often can be a sign. Deteriorating depth perception, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, often results in the inability to judge distance or perceive and interpret visual images correctly and ultimately results in a loss of function.

3. Trouble with word-finding

New problems with words in speaking or writing; having trouble following or joining a conversation, or, struggling to find a word (ie. saying “the thing on your wrist that tells time” instead of “watch”) is not uncommon in Alzheimer’s disease. As neural pathways deteriorate, the ability to communicate through the spoken word becomes greatly impaired.

4. Misplacing things

Misplacing items and losing the ability to retrace steps, like placing car keys in the washer or dryer, or even perceiving that items have been “stolen” (when they have been misplaced) are part of the disease process in Alzheimer’s. As working memory declines, the ability to sequence activities also declines.

How can you tell the difference between normal aging and Alzheimer’s?

Although some processes within the brain may change with age, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal progression of aging. Alzheimer’s results in a pervasive pattern of memory loss that drastically impairs function over time. Normal aging, on the other hand, may result in slower processing speed, slower word recall, and, perhaps, occasional forgetfulness. But, overall, the ability to function stays intact well into later years.

Who is at risk for Alzheimer’s?

Although age (65 and older) is probably the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, those who have a parent, brother, or sister with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness.

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses Alzheimer’s but also includes other diseases that result in neurocognitive decline. Vascular dementia, alcohol-related dementia, Lewy-body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, for example, are also included under the umbrella of dementia.

What causes Alzheimer’s?

There are a wide variety of theories as to what actually causes Alzheimer’s disease. The most likely factors include a combination of age-related changes in the brain along with genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any one of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease may differ vastly from one person to another.

How can you help prevent Alzheimer’s?

Avoiding a diet high in processed foods, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular exercise seem to be critical components for decreasing the risk of developing neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Where can I find memory care near me for my loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia?

Pegasus Senior Living’s Connections program was developed with your loved one in mind. The program is backed by extensive research and expertly incorporates the concept of neuroplasticity to help engage the mind.

Pegasus Senior Living | Senior woman getting a hug from her caregiver
New Africa –

Residents thrive in a calming, nurturing environment with the right kind of stimulation. We incorporate specially designed activities that engage the mind, body, and the senses like virtual bike rides via SMARTboard technology or using songs to spark communication.

We also provide a variety of brain-healthy foods for residents and support socialization. Research shows that engaging with others is critical to the maintenance of mental health, cognition, and physical health.

We’ve done the research and we have an experienced team that understands your loved one’s unique needs.


Let us help you navigate memory loss care.

We all want our loved ones to live their best lives in their later years. If you’re looking for a robust, research-based program that will improve your loved one’s quality of life, connect with a Pegasus Senior Living community near you. Start your search for “memory care near me” by seeing the Connections program in action.

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