If you have a senior loved one who has dementia, then you already know what a job it is to provide proper care for them. When they also have Alzheimer’s Disease, you are looking at even more complex care. Many families can’t put their own lives on hold to be there for the at-home care that is needed. Whether it’s due to children, jobs, or other factors, you may need to get in touch with a senior care organization who specializes in dementia and Alzheimer’s. They can help you determine the type of care your loved one will need on a daily basis. However, you will want to have a clear understanding of the condition you are dealing with in your senior family member before you make your plan for long-term care.
In many cases of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, the early signs are noticed by family members first. These two conditions are not the same, but often are present at the same time. Dementia is found in older adults most of the time, and can be brought on by several medical factors. Here are a few conditions that could cause symptoms of dementia to show up:
• Alzheimer’s Disease
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Trauma to the brain
• Cardiac problems
If you have noticed signs and symptoms in your elderly loved one that concerns you, you’ll want to understand some of the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Let’s look at a few of those signs:
1. Social Withdrawal
Your loved one probably knows that they are having memory or cognitive problems and do not want others to know. They may become reclusive, staying at home all the time or refusing to go out with friends. Social interaction is the most vulnerable setting for someone with these issues. Nobody wants to feel like they are losing their memory or risk looking foolish when they can’t recall if they’ve repeated things or not.
2. Changes in Grooming
You may notice they are wearing mismatched clothing when they’ve always been stylish, or they may wear clothes that are dirty. They may also refuse to bathe or want to wear the same clothes over and over.
3. Making Mistakes with Medications
They may seem to understand the doctor’s instructions, but can’t retain that information. This could cause them to take too much or too little medicine, or not finish a round of antibiotics.
4. Can’t Find Their Belongings
It’s common for people with dementia to misplace personal items and then accuse others of stealing them. Dementia brings on confusion and paranoia sometimes, so don’t let this upset you.
5. Mood Changes
Outbursts of anger or frustration are not uncommon with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Your loved one may become paranoid and suspicious of people when they were never like that before. It can escalate as they gain understanding of their condition.
Your loved one may deny there are memory problems to other people or their doctor, insisting that everything is fine. They may even forget why they came to the doctor in the first place and leave out pertinent information about other issues the doctor needs to know about.
What Should You Do?
If you have noticed any of these early warning signs on a regular basis, you’ll want to educate yourself and read as much as possible about these conditions. Stay engaged so that you can empower yourself to help.
Talk to the people your loved one spends the most time with, such as friends and other family members. Ask if they have also noticed these symptoms.
Spend more time yourself with your aging loved one. If you are concerned about the signs you’ve observed, the best way to know for sure is to spend a lot of time with them so you can pay attention. Finally, talk to the person’s doctor so they can help you with a care plan. Your senior also needs to feel empowered, even if they get frustrated when it’s brought up. Remember, you will need to reach deep and provide a lot of patience and love as the disease progresses. Allow others to help you when possible, and keep in mind that the senior loved one will likely feel frustration with the situation. It can be very difficult for them to accept that they will need care or that their independence will change. Gentle communication is the key.
For more information on spotting early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, please contact us today!