When is being forgetful the sign of a bigger problem? If you think you or a loved one may have Alzheimer's disease, how do you get a diagnosis?
Those questions are key to taking early action for those families and individuals facing Alzheimer's disease and making the best of a daunting diagnosis.
KNOW Alzheimer's 8 is a project of CBS 8, The Alzheimer's Association and Torrey Pines Bank and we want you to know how to get those answers.
"Well, the oldest one is the one with the train and I made that for my husband and he had it in his office for years," said Jane Eppele.
Jane Eppele is a part time artist even taking classes to refine her skills. She finds peace in the creative process - even as she's having more and more trouble remembering things.
"And when I would tell my friends, they'd say, ‘oh, we're all having that problem at this age," Jane continued.
But her daughter Janet was pretty sure that what was going on wasn't just normal aging.
"If we had been complacent and not been our own good self-advocates, we wouldn't have known to keep saying, ‘y'know we really want to look into this more,'" Janet added.
Doctor Michael Lobatz is a neurologist and medical director at the Scripps Rehabilitation Center. He says there's a big difference between being a little forgetful and Alzheimer's.
"So, forgetfulness, inability to function properly, something more than just forgetting keys or a name occasionally," added Dr. Lobatz. "But, when you start forgetting things that are more important, for instance you forget to turn the burners off in your house, or forget a faucet, or forget appointments, or have difficulty processing. You can't, for example, do bills or banking like you used to, then we start to have concerns that something else might be going on."
There are several ways to get a diagnosis, including memory tests, some blood work and most effective an MRI.
Armed with the knowledge of what's ahead, Jane and Janet enrolled in classes at the Alzheimer's Association.
"I hesitated. I didn't want to come, but I thought to please her I would come. And now I tell people they should come," said Jane.
It's helped them communicate better.
"And basically I learned the whole way I had been communicating was not being productive," noted Janet.
"It has greatly benefitted the relationship," Jane added.
And make best use of their time.
"The two things that have always brought mom the most joy, besides family, are musical theater and travel. So we've done a lot of both, so that we are making memories," said Janet.
To learn more about the signs of Alzheimer's and how to get a diagnosis, CLICK HERE.