Updated: Feb 23
Just the words dementia and Alzheimer’s can strike fear into the hearts of the most together, strongest people we know. However, know that you’re not alone and knowledge is indeed power.
Although often used interchangeably, dementia is a common term for diminishing cognitive ability serious enough to impede daily life – usually requiring residential memory care at some point. The most widespread cause of dementia? Alzheimer’s disease, which counts for approximately 60-80% of dementia cases.
Cellular degeneration followed by complex brain transformation caused by Alzheimer’s disease can lead to life-changing symptoms. As symptoms worsen over time, many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will require dementia elderly care.
So what should you look for? Although the most commonly linked risk factor is tied to age, if your mother, father, aunt, sibling or other loved one is struggling to remember new information, is disoriented or is confused in a manner that is new or overall uncharacteristic, contacting a physician could be a first great step in finding out what’s really happening. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 common warning signs and symptoms.
Memory Loss that Effects Everyday Life
One of the first signs of dementia is struggling when learning new things or/and memory loss that negatively effects everyday life. This may include forgetting anniversaries, birthdays and other important dates previously known, as well as an escalation in reliance on external memory aids – such as written notes or phone notifications.
Decreased Problem Solving Skills or Planning Abilities
As dementia and/or Alzheimer’s progresses, cognitive decline can effect your loved one’s ability to complete tasks that were once natural and easy, such as create the monthly budget or follow a family recipe. And even when successful, these tasks may take longer to complete than they did previously.
Familiar Tasks become More Challenging
Those struggling with dementia may get lost walking the dog on the “regular” route or navigating to your house, or they may grapple when completing familiar, everyday tasks. Residential care for dementia patients can help with this.
Place and Time Make Less Sense
From not knowing the day, season or year, to not necessarily being able to discern where they are or how they got there, dementia can be confusing and scary.
Lack of Spatial Ability or Comprehension of Visual Imagery
For those with Alzheimer’s, what may seem like simple visual issues may actually stem from the progression of dementia: from battling when reading to having difficulties with balance to judging distances.
Those with dementia may find themselves lost in the conversation – unable to keep up. They may repeat themselves, struggle to find appropriate words, use words that don’t quite fit or stay quiet as they try to determine the line of discussion.
Losing Items and Lacking the Ability to Find Them
Not only do some people with Alzheimer’s/dementia misplace items – often unable to remember where they were and what they were doing in order to retrace their steps – they may also inadvertently store things in unexpected places, such as putting car keys in the refrigerator or jewelry in a shoe box. When unable to find their belongings, they may even accuse people of being thieves – family members as well as those who work in residential memory care.
A Change in Judgement
As dementia worsens, so may judgement and decision making. For instance, he may confuse his debit card for a credit card he “magically” doesn’t receive a bill for – so spending may spiral out of control. She may not brush her hair as often as she used to or sometimes skip bathing and other common grooming routines.
Disengagement from Friends and Coworkers
Because those fighting with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s or other conditions can cause communication issues as their abilities to concentrate and comprehend change, you may notice them withdrawing from their traditional girls’ night out, book clubs, poker night, favorite hobbies and avocations, as well as disengaging from coworkers and others with whom they regularly interact.
Perhaps you’ve noticed your sweet, cuddly grandmother has gotten a bit more prickly lately. Or maybe your historically brave father has become fearful and anxious as of late. Seeing marked, or even subtle, shifts in mood and personality can be a sign of cognitive decline caused by dementia.
If you notice any or all of these symptoms in the elder in your life, now might be a great time to schedule an appointment with a trusted physician to seek a diagnosis. The earlier you have a plan in place, the more you can prepare for this journey together, including finding the best fit for dementia elderly care.
Remember that you’re not alone. We’re here to help with housing tailored for the senior in your life whether that be residential memory care or something else. There are many important things to consider when choosing dementia elderly care, so understanding the various types of communities can go a long way in determining your loved one’s future happiness. We’re here to lend our expertise when it comes to local options for memory care – care designated to address the special needs of individuals who have a diagnosis of dementia. Dementia elderly care, also known as memory care or Alzheimer’s care, can be provided in a special unit within the community or in a free-standing community. An Alzheimer’s or dementia community provides an environment and care model designed specifically for the unique needs of persons with a dementia-oriented illness. For help and support on this journey, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have knowledgeable professionals to help guide you every step of the way!
For more information specifically on Alzheimer’s and it’s progression, visit with your loved one’s doctor or reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association helpline at (800) 272-3900.