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How To Deal With Early Stages Of Dementia

Physical Signs Of Dementia In Elderly Relatives

Recognizing The Early Stages of Dementia

What do you do if you suspect that someone in your family has dementia, but your answers to the behaviors above seem to fall in the middle? While it may be hard to distinguish between dementia symptoms and ordinary aging , dementia typically comes with cumulative cognitive decline.

In addition to the eight major dementia symptoms above, many seniors will exhibit physical signs of this cognitive decline. There are several additional warning behaviors to look for:

If, after cataloguing their symptoms, you suspect your loved one has dementia, there are a few proactive steps you can take. Read on for tips on tracking symptoms and seeking support from medical professionals.

Stage : Overnight Care

At this point, people who have been living alone but with daytime caregiving who do not have anosognosia will begin turning to caregivers, friends, and family members and say, Would you like to move in with me or stay over? Wanting to have someone with them overnight does not imply that they need full-time care. People at this level still enjoy the autonomy of being able to spend a few hours alone, but not much longer than that.

At DAWN, weve found that if resources allow, it works well to immediately provide a caregiver who is present from dinnertime through breakfast, full-time on weekends, and off-duty during business hours. We have found this works very well as a part-time job for students studying nursing or social work. During the day, we arrange midday activities that provide the client with sensory and social stimulation but allow our clients an hour or two each morning and afternoon to be spent alone. This helps them preserve a sense of autonomy and privacy within their own homes for a little longer.

Stage : Clinginess Or Clingy Dementia

When someone slips into this stagebecoming clingythey are experiencing confusion on such a level that they are commonly unable to do simple tasks when alone, or cannot understand whether its morning or afternoon, Tuesday or Saturday, October or May. They might say, Id feel better if I could hold your arm. They may not be able to verbalize this need and just reach out and take their companions arm. In a crowd, even in a small group, these people sidle closer or lean into their companions. They look for eye contact and want to make eye contact often. For them, at this point most people have become strangerseven family members and dear friendsalthough they will still do their best to mask it. Memories can be recalled and faces placed, but it requires careful leading through a series of related memories to get there, if at all.

Routine and familiarity are now essential. The smallest change can bring on a crisis of fear and confusion. When someone reaches this stage, we need to vigilantly watch for the moment they move to the next level of need, which will be a transition we dare not ignore. The change may be sudden or gradual, the result of a crisis or merely a response to an accumulation of daily failures or irritations. They will now need someone with them at night.

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Behaviors That Could Indicate Dementia

1. Difficulty remembering or trouble finding words

Is your parent often tongue-tied? Its normal for older adults to have lapses in thought here and there. But showing signs of forgetfulness every day is an early warning sign of dementia.

If your mom is frequently losing track of her thoughts mid-sentence, or if your dad has trouble finding words in casual conversations, these are dementia signs to note.

2. Inability to learn something new

Is your mom or dad struggling to absorb and retain new information? Is trying a new activity unusually difficult?

If your moms favorite activity is cooking, but shes struggling to use a new appliance or follow a new recipe, dementia may be the culprit. If you notice your parents avoiding new activities or struggling to grasp a new concept, note it.

3. Struggling to manage finances

Do you notice your dad failing to properly manage bills or taxes? Does your mom struggle to balance her checkbook? Watch for bills piling up or other problem-solving skills declining, as these are common behaviors of dementia.

4. Unable to keep track of time

Is your loved one having a hard time remembering what day it is? Are they losing track of time on an even larger scale?

If your elderly parent continues to forget the day, month, year, holidays, or other important dates, this is a red flag. Write down what they forget and how often the lapses occur.

5. Poor judgment and decision making

6. Problems remembering commitments

8. Repetition

Key Points About Early

HOW TO DEAL WITH DEMENTIA A Positive Approach For Coping With The Early ...
  • Alzheimer disease commonly affects older people, but early-onset Alzheimer disease can affect people in their 30s or 40s.

  • It affects memory, thinking, and behavior.

  • Although there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better quality of life.

  • Stay healthy with a good diet and regular exercise.

  • Avoid alcohol and other substances that may affect memory, thinking, and behavior.

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When The Person With Alzheimers Can’t Move

During the later stages of Alzheimers disease, a person may lose the ability to move and spend much of his or her time in a bed or chair. This lack of movement can cause problems such as pressure sores or bedsores, and stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs.

If the person with Alzheimers cannot move around on his or her own, contact a home health aide, physical therapist, or nurse for help. These professionals can show you how to move the person safely, such as changing positions in bed or in a chair.

A physical therapist can also show you how to move the person’s body joints using range-of-motion exercises. During these exercises, you hold the person’s arms or legs, one at a time, and move and bend it several times a day. Movement prevents stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs. It also prevents pressure sores or bedsores.

To make the person more comfortable:

To keep from hurting yourself when moving someone with Alzheimer’s disease:

Tips For Living Alone With Early

On this page:

Learn about ways to cope with changes, prepare for the future, and stay active.

Have you been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, or a frontotemporal disorder and live alone? Or, do you have mild cognitive impairment ? If so, these tips are for you.

These tips offer ways to help you cope with changes in memory and thinking, prepare for the future, and stay active.

Use the table of contents at the top of this page to go to different sections. At the end of each section, click on the Back to top link to return to the table of contents.

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Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment

This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:

  • Forgetting where one has placed an object
  • Forgetting names that were once very familiar

Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.

Document And Share Dementia Behaviors With A Doctor

How early dementia diagnosis gave us relief

If you think that your loved one has dementia, keep a record of the symptoms. Track signs of dementia using your phone or a journal. Its important to share specific examples with a doctor.

If youre worried about upsetting a loved one, submit your observations to their physician privately in writing. Keep in mind that HIPAA authorization is not needed for you to share concerns about your parent with their health professional. However, their doctor wont be able to share a medical diagnosis with you without HIPAA authorization from your parent.

Include details about:

  • When you first noticed dementia behavior
  • Specific dementia symptoms your parents show
  • How often they struggle and when it happens
  • Changes in their normal routine or behavior

Read Also: What To Do When Dementia Patient Wants To Go Home

Coping Strategies For Vascular Dementia Caregivers

As a caregiver for someone suffering from vascular dementia , you may face difficult challenges as you try to provide care and understand the behavior changes of the person you are caring for. Understanding the behavior of a person with VaD can help lessen these difficulties.

People with VaD may exhibit the following behavior:

  • Problems with thinking, walking and performing everyday activities are the most prominent symptoms. Many people with VaD also suffer from depression, which can result in less motivation to perform their usual activities or a lack of interest in the world around them.
  • Extreme anxiety about daily life, which may be exhibited by asking questions and repeating information about once familiar events and/ or people, preparing for appointments/day care well ahead of time and using notes and reminders endlessly.
  • Apathy or a lack of initiative about tasks that used to be routine, though now feel overwhelming. For example, the person who always enjoyed puzzles but no longer does them because they are too overwhelming and require skills he/she no longer possesses.
  • Frequent agitation may occur as people become less able to interpret their environment and control or express their feelings. For example, a person with VaD may strike out at their caregiver.

How To Find Help For Caregiving

As the person moves through the stages of Alzheimer’s, he or she will need more care. You may not be able to meet all his or her needs at home anymore. It’s important to know your limits, take care of yourself, and to seek help whenever you need it. Learn more about getting help with Alzheimer’s caregiving and finding ways to care for yourself. If caring for the person has become too much for you, you can also learn more about finding long-term care for a person with Alzheimer’s.

Read Also: Is Alzheimer’s More Common In One Ethnicity

When To Contact A Doctor

A person who experiences any of these symptoms or notices them in a loved one should speak with a medical professional.

According to the Alzheimers Association, it is a myth that cognitive functioning always worsens as a person gets older. While minor forgetfulness can be a normal part of the aging process, if symptoms start to affect a persons everyday life, they may be serious. Signs of cognitive decline may signal dementia or another illness for which doctors can provide support.

Although there is no cure for dementia yet, a doctor can help slow the progression of the disease and ease the symptoms. This can improve a persons quality of life.

Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia

Pin on Stages of dementia

Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.

Recommended Reading: What Comes First Dementia Or Alzheimer’s

Struggles To Find Right Word In Conversations

Another early sign of Dementia is having a hard time communicating your thoughts and ideas with others. This is one of those symptoms that others are able to notice when conversing with their loved one living with dementia.

People in the early stages of Dementia struggle to explain things to others or struggle to find the right word to describe their thoughts. This, at times, makes it hard to understand what they are saying or for them to join in a conversation, leaving them with a sense of loneliness.

Changes In Hygiene Habits

What it looks like: Many people with middle-stage dementia stop noticing their appearance. They may forget to change their clothes, bathe or brush their hair.

How to manage it: When personal care tasks fall to the wayside, provide reminders to ensure that habits are kept up.

Model the action you want the individual to perform, Cornelison says. Hand them their toothbrush, and get yours out, as well. Demonstrate what you want them to do, and start their hand in the motion.

If you are struggling to manage your loved ones care on your own, consider an in-home caregiver.

Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Vascular Dementia

Cope With Changes In Communication

As your loved ones Alzheimers or dementia progresses, youll notice changes in how they communicate. They may have trouble finding words, substitute one word for another, repeat the same things over and over, or become easily confused. Increased hand gestures, losing their train of thought, and even inappropriate outbursts are all common as well.

Even if your loved one has trouble maintaining a conversationor less interest in starting oneits important to encourage social interaction. Making them feel safe rather than stressed will make communication easier, so try to manage your own frustration levels.

Be patient. If your loved one has difficulty recalling a word, for example, allow them time. Getting anxious or impatient will only inhibit their recall. Gently supply the word or tell the person that you can come back to it later.

Be aware of your body language. Your loved one responds to your facial expression, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues as much as the words you choose. Make eye contact, stay calm, and keep a relaxed, open posture.

Speak slowly and clearly. Give one direction or ask one question at a time, use short sentences, and give your loved one more time to process whats being said. Find a simpler way to say the same thing if it wasnt understood the first time.

Maintain respect. Dont use patronizing language, baby talk, or sarcasm. It can cause hurt or confusion.

Tips For Caregivers: Taking Care Of Yourself

The Early Stages of Dementia

Being a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming. Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia takes time and effort. It can feel lonely and frustrating. You might even feel angry, which could be a sign you are trying to take on too much. It is important to find time to take care of yourself. Here are some tips that may offer some relief:

  • Ask for help when you need it. This could mean asking family members and friends to help or reaching out to for additional care needs.
  • Eat nutritious foods, which can help keep you healthy and active for longer.
  • Join a caregiver’s support group online or in person. Meeting other caregivers will give you a chance to share stories and ideas and can help keep you from feeling isolated.
  • Take breaks each day. Try making a cup of tea or calling a friend.
  • Spend time with friends and keep up with hobbies.
  • Get exercise as often as you can. Try doing yoga or going for a walk.
  • Try practicing meditation. Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
  • Consider seeking help from mental health professionals to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Talk with your doctor about finding treatment.

Read Also: What Percentage Of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients Also Suffer From Diabetes

Dementia Symptoms To Watch For

Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:

Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimers Association says. They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.

Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.

Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious becomes upset easily or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.

Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.

People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.

Dont Neglect Your Own Needs

By always focusing so diligently on your loved ones needs throughout the progression of their dementia, its easy to fall into the trap of neglecting your own welfare. If youre not getting the physical and emotional support you need, you wont be able to provide the best level of care, and youre more likely to become overwhelmed and suffer burnout.

Plan for your own care. Visit your doctor for regular checkups and pay attention to the signs and symptoms of excessive stress. Its easy to abandon the people and activities you love when youre mired in caregiving, but you risk your health and peace of mind by doing so. Take time away from caregiving to maintain friendships, social contacts, and professional networks, and pursue the hobbies and interests that bring you joy.

Talk to someone. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, clergy member, or therapist, about what youre going through. The simple act of talking face-to-face with someone who cares can be extremely catharticand a great stress reliever.

Stay active. Regular exercise not only keeps you fit, it releases endorphins that can really boost your mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If you cant get away for that long at once, break the time up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

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