It is estimated that around 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and this number is only expected to grow. However, dementia is not a normal part of aging, and it does not affect everyone. There are many older adults who are not affected. Recognizing the signs of dementia can help families identify potential problems early on and seek appropriate medical care and resources.
Some common signs of dementia to be aware of include:
- Confusion about people, places, and times.
When life gets busy, it’s not unusual to momentarily forget what day it is, but with dementia, older adults may regularly become confused about what day, month, or even year it is. They may have trouble recognizing familiar people in their lives, such as family and friends, or remembering where they are.
- Difficulty finding the correct words.
Does your aging parent use unusual or incorrect terms to refer to everyday items or activities they should know? Do they have trouble recalling the words they are looking for or lose their train of thought mid-sentence? These could be signs of dementia.
- Trouble remembering new information.
Many seniors with dementia are able to recall stories and events from the past, but they may have trouble remembering someone’s name that was just introduced or what you just told them was for dinner. Learning how to do new things may be difficult and frustrating, even though they’ve been shown how.
- Disorientation in familiar places.
Has your aging parent suddenly become lost or disoriented when heading to places they frequently visit such as the grocery store, a family member’s home, or the senior center? Are they confused about where they are or how to get where they want to go when it is somewhere they used to travel to with no problems? Not only may you find this alarming, but it can be a major safety concern.
- Repetitive conversations.
Everyone has moments where they forget if they’ve already shared a story or not, but as dementia develops, this may become more frequent. Seniors may ask the same questions several times in a short period of time. They may tell the same story or make the same comment multiple times, forgetting that they’ve already said it.
- Changes in behavior. You probably know your loved one better than most people, so you may recognize subtle changes in their behavior that are concerning. This could be things like losing interest in activities they once enjoyed, neglecting their personal hygiene or upkeep of their home, or becoming agitated more easily. They may just seem off. And these are certainly issues you should document and discuss with their healthcare provider.
But just because your aging parent begins to show signs of dementia does not necessarily mean that they can no longer live independently, especially during early stages of the disease. They may be able to continue aging in place with the help of an in-home caregiver who visits for a few hours per week or per day. A caregiver can provide the support they need when they need it, allowing them to remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own home. Learn more about services and support for seniors with dementia by contacting Always Best Care at (855) 470-2273 and scheduling a free consultation.