Most people misplace their keys occasionally, but when the memory issues start to occur more frequently, you may worry about a potential dementia or Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. How do you know when you can get by with sticky notes, and when is it time to consult a doctor?
Normal signs of aging
As we reach middle age and beyond, we may notice mental challenges we never had before. These include:
- Forgetting what day it is.
- Occasionally having trouble coming up with the right word.
- Becoming distracted more easily.
- Misplacing items.
- Having trouble doing more than one thing at a time.
- Missing a bill payment.
While these symptoms can be distressing, they don’t necessarily indicate dementia or other brain ailment. Most people can manage the symptoms by keeping a calendar nearby or relying on lists and reminder notes. Sometimes, you just need to create a new habit of hanging your keys on the key ring as soon as you come into the door.
Potentially troubling signs of dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for several conditions that cause progressive memory loss and difficulty thinking. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which is the result of an abnormal buildup of proteins in the brains. About 5.7 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease. Other medical conditions leading to dementia include Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia or frontotemporal dementia. Some medicines may slow down the progression of dementia, but there is no cure.
Dementia symptoms can often disrupt your daily routine. Potentially troubling signs include:
- Forgetting something you were recently told.
- Being unable to recognize or identify family members.
- Frequently forgetting things or recent events.
- Struggling to focus on a task.
- Making bad decisions, like giving away money to strangers or having difficulty paying bills.
- Getting lost in a familiar place.
- Becoming easily upset or withdrawn.
Family members often report their loved ones doing things that are out-of-character. Is your formerly fiscally conservative father giving money to every charity that sends him a plea? Does your peacemaker mother suddenly lose her temper and argue with loved ones? These symptoms suggest a visit to your general practitioner or other trusted medical professional.
Bringing it up with your loved one
Many people struggle to talk to their senior loved ones about their worries. Ideally, you’ll tell your loved one that you’re concerned, and your loved one will agree to see a doctor. Life, as we know, is rarely ideal. These conversations can be difficult, especially if your loved one has always been independent and in charge. A gentle approach can help.
Remind your loved one that these troublesome symptoms do not automatically translate into a devastating diagnosis. Certain treatable medical conditions can cause symptoms that mimic the signs of dementia. Something as simple as a medication interaction can cause problems that go away with a change of prescriptions.
Reiterate your unconditional love and support. You’re on their side – you will support them and work to find the best solution, regardless of the final diagnosis.
Repeat as necessary.
Finding the right senior living solution for people with dementia
Many of our loved ones are haunted by their own memories of grandparents and others who were sent to an institutional nursing home setting and left in a bed or wheelchair. Today’s senior living facilities have come a long way. Lona Newton and her staff at Senior Living Advisor can help you sort out where your loved one can thrive, whether it’s at home with occasional caregivers, in an assisted living community, memory care facility or another professional senior care setting.
At Senior Living Advisor, we understand how daunting this process can be. You don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Our experience and familiarity with local senior living communities mean we’ve done the homework for you. If you’re ready to talk about senior living opportunities for yourself or a loved one, schedule a free consultation now. You want real options for better choices. We make it easier to decide.