Many people wonder why their elderly parents or grandparents start to forget important information. They become confused and fail to communicate. These problems can be signs of Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain condition that affects about 50 million elderly people throughout the world. As November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, learn about the signs of this disease from the Alzheimer Foundation of America (AFA) and what you can do to help family members and loved ones that may experience its various stages.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The disease is thought to be caused by a certain plaque on the brain that can affect cells within the area that controls memory and related activities. Seek medical diagnosis if you or someone in your family has these signs. With an early diagnosis, you can slow down the disease’s progression using available medications.
Common warning signs of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, according to the AFA include the following.
Recent memory loss
A person living with dementia may have frequent memory loss, that impacts their ability to function in their daily life. This could include the name of someone they see frequently, where to find an item they frequently use, or many other instances.
Confusion of time and place
Individuals living with dementia may be disoriented to time, place and immediate environment. They may not know where they are, why they’re there, or how they got there. Perhaps they wake up in the middle of the night and get ready for work, even though they’ve been retired for years.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
A person living with dementia might have increased trouble while driving and get lost. This could even happen in familiar areas. They may forget the rules of the road, forget directions, or ignore signs on the road. This poses a danger to themselves and to others. AFA offers more resources on driving and dementia here.
Problems with language
Someone living with dementia might have issues with following or initiating a conversation. They may become frustrated, discouraged, or distant if they are unable to remember a word they want to say, or understand what another person is saying.
Decreased or poor judgment
We can all make poor decisions once in a while. A person with dementia might make decisions that negatively impact their wellbeing more frequently and start paying less attention to their daily needs.
Problems with abstract thinking
It is normal to have difficulty balancing a budget. Someone who has a dementia-related illness might forget what numbers are, or how to add and subtract.
Forget where they put things
Everyone misplaces their keys or glasses now and then. However, one warning sign for dementia can be that a person might repeatedly put their items in places that they do not belong (e.g., keys in the freezer).
Changes in mood and personality
Anyone can become sad or moody from time to time. One dementia warning sign can be quick mood changes, such as from calm to anger. They also might start becoming uncomfortable in social situations.
Loss of initiative
It is normal to not want to do housework, or work tasks. A person living with dementia may no longer initiate things that they once enjoyed. If you find that a person who once loved to be outside no longer wants to leave the house, this could be a warning sign.
Caring for Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease
Taking care of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s can be difficult. Caregivers may have to dress an elderly person and tend to his or her hygiene. It may be difficult to communicate with this patient.
If you need help caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, professional caregivers can ease your worries. Trained caregivers will assist with personal care and the various services needed for the patient.