Learn the common signs of dementia in older adults.
If you’ve noticed that your older parent seems more forgetful than usual, it may give you pause. Could the signs that you’re seeing be typical age-related memory loss, or the sign of something more serious, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?
The early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s typically involve changes not just in memory, but also in behavior and thinking. The most important thing families can do if they are concerned about changes in a loved one is to set up an appointment with a physician. Early intervention can help an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia with relief of symptoms. Additionally, if a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can work together to help establish a routine that promotes independence during the early stages of the disease, and plan for ways to ensure safety as the disease progresses.
The Alzheimer’s Association outlines 10 common warning signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia and shares examples of typical age-related changes:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. In the early stages of the disease, one of the most common symptoms is forgetting recently learned information. Additionally, the individual may forget important dates or events, may ask the same questions repeatedly, and may increasingly need the assistance of memory aids such as written notes, smartphone alerts or assistance from family and friends.
Typical age-related change: Occasionally forgetting names, but remembering them later.
- Challenges in planning or solving problems. Individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia may find it difficult to follow a plan or work with numbers. She or he may struggle to follow a familiar recipe or keep track of and pay bills on time. Additionally, your loved one may find it difficult to concentrate and may take much longer to complete tasks.
Typical age-related change: Making errors every so often when managing finances or paying bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. When a loved one has dementia, he or she may find it difficult to complete daily tasks, such as driving to a familiar location or organizing a grocery list.
Typical age-related change: Needing help occasionally with programing the DVR or with the settings on the oven.
- Confusing time or place. A loved one with Alzheimer’s may struggle to keep track of dates, seasons and the passage of time, and may not be able to identify where she or he is located.
Typical age-related change: Confusion over the day of the week, but being able to figure it out later.
- Difficulty understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Vision issues are not uncommon for those with Alzheimer’s. Diminished vision can lead to difficulty with balance or performing daily activities. The ability to see contrast and determine colors may also be impacted, creating issues judging distance and driving.
Typical age-related change: Vision changes related to cataracts or macular degeneration.
- New problems with speaking or writing. The onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia may make it difficult for your loved one to follow and join a conversation. He or she may struggle with naming familiar objects and may use the wrong name for common items.
Typical age-related change: Occasionally having difficulty finding the right word.
- Misplacing items and being unable to retrace steps to locate them. Those with Alzheimer’s or dementia may put items in unusual places and be unable to retrace their steps to locate them again. Your loved one may accuse you or others of stealing these items, especially as the disease progresses.
Typical age-related change: Misplacing items, but being able to retrace steps and locate them.
- Decreased or poor judgment. Decision-making skills may be impaired and individuals may use poor judgment when dealing with finances, and they may not be keeping up with daily grooming.
Typical age-related change: Making a mistake once in a while, such as forgetting to pay a monthly bill.
- Withdrawal from work or social activities. Following conversations may become difficult for an individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and as a result, he or she may not want to participate in gatherings with friends and family, hobbies or other favorite pastimes.
Typical age-related change: Occasionally being uninterested in social obligations or gatherings with family or friends.
- Changes in mood and personality. Personality and mood changes may be some of the first symptoms noticed by family when a loved one is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Your loved one may become depressed, fearful, confused or suspicious.
Typical age-related change: Becoming irritated when a routine is disrupted.
If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the experts at Visiting Care Giving Services are here to help. Our compassionate caregivers are trained to help individuals and families at all stages of the disease and can help your loved one maintain independence and dignity.
To learn more about our St. Peters memory care services and memory care services for the surrounding communities, reach out to us at (636) 493-9058 today to schedule a free in-home consultation so that we can develop a plan of care that will help your loved one live life to the fullest. To learn if our St. Peters memory care services are available in your community, please visit this page on our website.