What All Caregivers for Seniors Should Know About the Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
The sixth leading cause of death in America today is Alzheimer’s disease, and one in three seniors who pass away will have some form of dementia. While these diseases are often cruel and prolonged illnesses requiring constant in home nursing care, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be much more effectively managed if they’re detected early on.
Caregivers for seniors should be aware of the warning signs of dementia so that the progression of the disease can be stopped, treated, or slowed. Know the differences between normal signs of aging and dementia by watching for these symptoms.
Common Warning Signs of Dementia
- Memory Loss
This is one of the hallmark signs of dementia, but it’s also common among perfectly healthy seniors. While you should practice constant vigilance for signs of memory loss, remember that forgetfulness is not necessarily a symptom of disease. Occasionally forgetting a name or the location of keys is not a big concern; the inability to retain new information or to remember crucial information like big events and days of the week might be. Senior helpers should be on the lookout for any sudden or unusual changes in memory.
- Difficulty with Routine Tasks
Research shows that happy retirees regularly engage in three to four activities for pleasure, while the least happy only engage in one or two. If caregivers for seniors begin to notice a change in their ability to perform once-loved activities, it could be a sign of dementia or other mental health issues. During the onset of dementia, sometimes even rote tasks like getting dressed or dental hygiene can become suddenly unfamiliar.
- Lack of Social Behavior
People with developing Alzheimer’s may start acting impolite or rude without realizing it, or they may withdraw from social gatherings altogether. Dementia can also affect people’s ability to pick up on social language cues, so that jokes or sarcasm might go undetected. Regular social interactions with help at home services can help gauge a person’s social functioning and grasp on his or her surroundings.
Elder care providers have the difficult task of distinguishing between normal aging behaviors and more serious signs of dementia. Often, family members will mistake totally benign behavior for signs of Alzheimer’s disease, while others will miss completely obvious red flags.
If you’re unsure, it never hurts to have a neurological evaluation performed by cognitive experts. Early precaution could save a lot of pain and heartache later.