Caring for someone with memory loss can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you don’t know what to expect as dementia progresses through stages and symptoms worsen. Early signs of dementia include memory issues, mood swings, difficulty speaking, poor judgment and disorientation. As stages progress, you may realize your loved one is forgetting names of family members, losing the ability to enjoy activities, and neglecting hygiene and health.
As people age, it’s common to have some memory problems and a modest decline in other thinking skills. It’s easy to misplace your glasses sometimes. Or maybe you need to make lists more often than in the past to remember appointments or tasks. This is part of the aging process. “These changes in memory are generally manageable and don’t disrupt your ability to work, live independently or maintain a social life,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
“There’s a difference, however, between normal changes in memory and memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. And some memory problems are the result of treatable conditions.”
Remember to first talk to a doctor about distressing symptoms. There may be specific medical reasons that someone is having particular troubles — a reaction to medication, for example. It’s important to eliminate those before attempting to cope with them yourself.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.
Because every person is different and dementia manifests itself uniquely, the speed at which dementia progresses varies widely. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s disease lives 4 to 8 years after a diagnosis, but some have lived as long as 20 years.
As the disease progresses, the signs and symptoms will become increasingly obvious. The most common scale to measure the progression of dementia is the Global Deterioration Scale for Assessment of Primary Degenerative Dementia (GDS). The scale is also known as the Reisberg Scale. According to the GDS, there are 7 different stages of Alzheimer’s disease correlating with 4 distinct categories: no dementia, mild dementia (or early-stage), moderate dementia (or mid-stage) and severe dementia (or late-stage).
WHEN IS IT TIME TO MOVE? LOOK FOR THESE 7 SIGNS.
1. Safety becomes a concern.
When you constantly worry about your loved one’s safety, it’s time to investigate a memory care unit. No matter if your loved one lives alone, with you or in an assisted living community, memory care communities provide the best kind of care because they are specifically designed to meet the individualized needs of people living with dementia. Staffed with specially trained caregivers, they can keep your loved one safe around the clock.
2. Personal care is being neglected.
Is personal hygiene becoming a concern? A person with dementia might make decisions that negatively impact his or her well-being more frequently and pay less attention to daily needs. Your loved one may forget to bathe, need help trimming his or her nails or leave dirty laundry too long unattended – all can be signs of dementia.
Memory care services can help provide personal care and assistance with activities of daily living that help your loved one stay on track.
3. You notice wandering outside and disorientation.
If your loved one wakes in the middle of the night or becomes confused and disoriented, he or she may aimlessly walk around. Wandering can be extremely dangerous if your loved one walks outside without realizing where he or she is or how to get back home. It can put seniors in dangerous situations and leave them exposed to harsh elements in the winter and summer. Memory care communities are secured and often have enclosed outdoor spaces to keep your loved one from wandering off without a caregiver.
4. Your loved one has new physical changes.
Look for changes in weight and posture. Watch for mobility problems. Slow movement can indicate disorientation. Similarly, forgetting to eat – or forgetting he or she’s already eaten and is now eating again – shows confusion. All these behaviors are warning signs of the need for more assistance.
5. Loneliness and isolation may be occurring.
Adult children and unpaid caregivers often have so much going on in their own lives that making time to get out with a loved one with dementia can be challenging. It’s easy for those with memory loss issues to sink into isolation, which can increase the risk of depression.
Memory care communities are exclusively designed with programming that fits the needs of residents with dementia. The activities are adapted to their cognitive abilities and designed to engage residents to help alleviate some of the anxiety brought on by dementia.
6. There’s confusion of time and place.
Adult children and unpaid caregivers often have so much going on in their own lives that m“It is normal to forget where you are going once in a while,” reports the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. But individuals living with dementia may be disoriented about the time, place and immediate environment much more often. You may see them experiencing more frequent recent memory loss, particularly of conversations and events. They may ask repeated questions and have some problems expressing and understanding language. They may have mild coordination problems, including difficulty writing and using objects. Depression and apathy can occur, accompanied by mood swings. They may need reminders for daily activities and have difficulty driving.
7. Your loved one has difficulty recalling people.
For many patients who are developing dementia, it becomes difficult to recall the names of people they are familiar with. We’ve all blanked out on someone’s name or forgotten a phone number. Perhaps your loved one wants to talk about a person he or she saw recently then can’t remember the person’s name. Or your loved one may find themselves standing in the middle of a room wondering who you are. The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. Dementia, on the other hand, is marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment and abstract thinking.
When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts work, hobbies, social activities and family relationships, an individual may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, another disorder that causes dementia or a condition that mimics dementia.
A MEMORY CARE COMMUNITY THAT BRINGS PEACE OF MIND.
Once you identify some signs of memory loss, which community to select for your loved one’s memory care is also a complicated decision. But the good news is that thanks to memory care communities like Holly Hill in Sulphur, Louisiana help is available for the decision-making process, and your family and loved one can find peace of mind.
Our specialized memory care community takes a person-centered approach focusing on our residents’ preferences, lifestyles and all the things that make them happy.