What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term encompassing a range of conditions that lead to brain changes causing neurocognitive decline. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, followed by others including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, fronto-temporal dementia and mixed dementia.
It isn’t always easy to pinpoint the first signs of dementia; oftentimes, initial symptoms are easy to disregard as a normal sign of aging. If your loved one has started to lose their car keys or forget a word every now and then, you might think little of it.
But while symptoms like these in isolation may well simply be a natural consequence of getting older, this isn’t always the case, and identifying dementia early is vital. As a family caregiver of an aging parent or loved one, it’s worth knowing what to look out for.
Memory loss is just one of a whole host of symptoms associated with the onset of dementia. Family caregivers may find their loved one’s attention, personality, mood, communication and even vision are also affected by the condition at some stage.
Memory and Attention
One of the most typical and well-known indicators of dementia is increased forgetfulness. A senior may struggle to remember important events and appointments, or forget the familiar route to their usual grocery store or coffee shop, for example.
Similarly, seniors with dementia may have newfound difficulties with concentration and attention, with tasks like managing finances or following step-by-step instructions becoming much harder to execute.
Despite being the most well-recognized, forgetfulness and memory loss are perhaps the symptoms easiest to minimize and accept as a normal part of aging. But with these often being some of the earliest signs of dementia, they should never be ignored.
Personality and Mood
Seniors with dementia may experience subtle or significant changes to their mood and personality. So if your once happy-go-lucky, cheerful parent has become depressed, anxious, confused or frustrated, this could be indicative of dementia.
Changes in mood may become most apparent to family caregivers through changed behavior. For example, a senior might become uncharacteristically aggressive or paranoid. If these behaviors occur mainly in the evening, they may be a result of sundowning syndrome.
Social and Communication
Many seniors with dementia have some difficulties with verbal communication. They may forget names or words, repeat themselves a lot, or be unable to keep a conversation flowing. These difficulties might impact their ability to maintain or form new relationships, resulting in them becoming withdrawn or avoiding social occasions they once enjoyed.
Symptoms of dementia in the areas of socialization and communication may also be linked with personality and mood. For example, increased anxiety or confusion which may lead to aggression can have an impact on a senior’s close relationships.
Vision and Spatial Awareness
Changes in vision could be caused by an array of conditions or even natural eye aging, but these changes can also be a symptom of dementia. Seniors with dementia may find it hard to perceive color or distance, struggle with certain lighting, or be unable to avoid obstacles.
Seek Support Early
While we’ve covered some of the most common early symptoms of dementia here, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Depending on the type and stage of dementia, there are a plethora of symptoms that could indicate something isn’t quite right.
Equally, your loved one having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean they have dementia, either. Speaking to a professional is the only way to know for sure. If you’re concerned about your relative for any reason, seek advice from a physician.
Bringing up the possibility of dementia to a parent or loved one can be difficult, but getting support early is worthwhile. While there is no cure for dementia, some treatments may be more effective if they’re started earlier on. Prompt diagnosis can also give a senior time to plan for the future and take an active role in their own care.
Choosing Memory Care
When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, you may wish to explore the possibility of residential assisted living with memory care in New Orleans. As a condition like Alzheimer’s disease progresses, memory care facilities can offer the specialist care a senior needs.
Memory care communities in New Orleans are typically secure with staff on site around-the-clock. This security allows seniors with dementia to live an independent life, free from the dangers that can come with wandering outside.
As dementia progresses, seniors may also require support with things like eating, tooth brushing, bathing and getting dressed. They may have reduced mobility, or forget when or how to carry out these vital activities successfully.
Residents in memory care communities are typically served healthy, delicious meals each day. They can also receive assistance with activities of daily living and personal care, based on needs identified in a frequently reviewed and updated care plan.
Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are highly individual, affecting each person in a unique way that may alter over time. Professional memory care teams are experts at meeting these specific needs, adapting care for each resident as their condition progresses.
Memory care communities can offer a rich and fulfilling lifestyle for seniors living with dementia. Many seniors experience loneliness, but residential memory care communities nurture the cultivation of strong friendships with caregivers and fellow residents.
Memory care facilities may also offer social, spiritual and recreational activities and on-site amenities for residents to enjoy. With everything they need to live well available to them, seniors need no longer worry about the logistics of daily living.
Moving to a specialized memory care community can grant seniors with dementia the freedom, dignity, and quality of life they truly deserve. To learn more about how Audubon Care Homes® can provide the caregiver support your family needs as well as the care your loved one living with dementia deserves contact us today.