Keep A Written Record Of The Symptoms
Every time you notice that mom or dad are displaying dementia-like symptoms, write your observations down with the date and time they occurred. This isnt to present to your parent as evidence of your concerns its more of a log that their doctor might find useful down the road when diagnosing your parents condition.
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.
Personality Mood And Behavior Changes
Occasionally feeling sad or moody is normal, but dementia and Alzheimers disease can lead to rapid, inexplicable mood changes. This often occurs when the senior is away from home, as they become upset when theyre out of their comfort zone or daily routine.
Its important to keep an eye out for increased anxiety, suspicion, depression, confusion, and social withdrawal. At the same time, the disease can also lead to more dramatic upswings, so you should watch out for significant, inexplicable mood swings in both directions.
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Heres What You Can Expect When An Occupational Therapist Works With Your Parents Who Have Dementia Signs
Step 1. It all starts with an initial assessment. In this time the therapist investigates a persons current challenges, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and goals.
Step 2. Building a realistic treatment plan with the persons goals and needs at the heart of the program. Its all about maximising a persons ability to do as much as possible.
This will likely look at lifestyle factors like exercise, sleep, nutrition, social connections, meaningful activities to basic activities of daily living like bathing, dressing and showering as well as assistive technology and the home environment. You might be interested in the article we published: Comprehensive Guide to Assistive Technology for Memory Loss
This sounds like a lot, but our goal is to make it easy and doable for you and your family and care team
Step 3. Review and Support. A lot of the work is done early in the therapy process and it may be more about fine tuning as the therapy plan progresses. Not only that youll have the option to connect with a therapist to help advise and support you, a person who is aware of your needs and goals.
So, if youre seeking help, advice or a personalised plan to
- help mitigate the impact of memory loss and
- set a path with a goal to improve quality of life
- get clarity on the right strategies for your situation be it home modifications, assistive technology, daily routines, lifestyle programs, cognitive therapies and more
Planning For A Parents Future
Early diagnosis is crucial for allowing dementia patients and their families to effectively prepare legally, financially and medically. Ideally, most of these preparations and discussions will have taken place long before you suspect changes in their mental state. If not, helping your parent spell out their wishes while they are still capable of participating is an important step in planning for their future. Clarifying what is happening to a parents memory, judgement, moods and behaviors also makes it much easier for their loved ones to accept these changes and come together to create a care plan that accommodates them.
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Plan Specific Ways To Start The Conversation
Use these conversation starters:
- Ive been thinking through my own long-term care plans lately and I was wondering if you have any advanced planning tips for me?
- I was wondering if youve noticed the same changes in your behavior that Ive noticed?
- Would you want to know if I noticed any concerning changes in your behavior?
What Diagnosis Falls Under Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is a diagnosis in itself. When it is noticeable clinically and identified early on, the formal diagnosis may be Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimers disease which may later develop into a diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimers disease.
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Take Care Of Yourself
It can be upsetting when a parent begins to change due to Alzheimers disease or dementia. It will not only progressively change their lives, but depending on your level of involvement, could trigger dramatic adjustments to your routine as well.
Stress is a normal, healthy reaction when someone close to you becomes unwell. Becoming overly anxious and worrisome or feeling overwhelmed can negatively affect your own health and well-being. Symptoms such as loss of sleep, hyperventilation, or depression can occur when were subject to undue stress and worry.
Even if youre a primary caregiver to your parent, be sure to take time for yourself. Get exercise daily, even if you just go for a brisk walk, and focus on good nutrition at mealtime.
Alzheimers disease and dementia support in Etobicoke and Toronto
Should your parent receive a positive Alzheimers disease or dementia diagnosis, you and your parent should expect significant changes over time as the condition progresses.
However, its important to realize that youre not alone in this. There are many support programs out there that specialize in Alzheimers disease and dementia care ready and are willing to help you and your parent take on this new journey with confidence.
For more information about our programs or if you have any questions, please reach out to us anytime.
About the Author
Understanding How Changes In The Brain Can Impact Insight And Self Awareness
Even at our best of times, if youre honest with yourself, we can on the face of it overestimate our performance abilities. Thats normal.
However, with changes in our cognitive fitness seen in some cases of early dementia or mild cognitive impairment a persons ability to self assess and have insight into their skills and performance capacity may be reduced.
This means being aware of cooking, driving, shopping or communication performance changes may not be apparent to mum. This is an important cognitive skill when it comes to problem solving and memory.
We learn from being aware of our errors, an awareness of ourselves and helps us fine tune our skills or make adjustments.
This occurs in the moment or in a delayed way.
An Example of In The Moment mum corrects the temperature to the stove in response to the onions, adjusts the car in response to the cyclist
An Example of Delayed I had too much tomato in the dish last time so Ill add two less this time
This self awareness can also impact on the conversation path, acknowledgement of challenges or need for support or action.
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New Problems With Words In Speaking Or Writing
Another common dementia symptom is having difficulty communicating or finding words. Maybe your mom has always been a stellar conversationalist and you notice that now she may have trouble following or joining a conversation. Or perhaps your dad struggles to find the right word or calls things by the wrong name.
A person with dementia may forget simple words or substitute the wrong word, making sentences difficult to understand. They may also have trouble understanding others.
How To Tell The Difference Between Age
Age-related memory loss is a normal part of the aging process. There are three main reasons why memory loss happens with age:
Hormones and proteins that repair brain cells and stimulate new neural growth decrease with age.
Blood flow to the brain decreases, impairing memory and cognitive skills.
The hippocampus often deteriorates during the aging process. Brain cells die as well.
While memory lapses can be frustrating, theyre usually not a cause for concern. If given a minute, your parent should be able to recall the information. Additionally, age-related memory loss does not interfere with a normal lifestyle. As long as your parent is functioning normally, pursuing regular activities and making good decisions, their memory lapses should not be a cause for concern.
Dementia, on the other hand, is not a normal part of the aging process. Eventually, it does interfere with a normal life. The memory loss and cognitive changes become too intense to work, socialize and participate in activities. Alzheimers is the most common cause of dementia, but other conditions can cause these symptoms as well.
Are There Other Conditions That Can Cause Symptoms Of Dementia
Some medical conditions may mimic symptoms of dementia. This is why its so important to see a doctor and get an accurate diagnosis. Some conditions that may be confused with dementia include:
- Drug side effects, especially with drugs that tend to slow down brain activity, such as benzodiazepines.
- Head injury, especially following a fall.
- Infections of the brain or spinal cord.
- Brain tumors.
Dementia Signs And Symptoms
A long list of symptoms is associated with dementia, but many overlap with other health conditions, meaning that having some of them does not confirm that an individual is cognitively impaired.
That said, dont hesitate to consult a healthcare provider if you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, which can be cognitive or psychological in nature:
- Trouble remembering new information
- Exhibiting signs of paranoia
- Exercising poor judgment
Not everyone will notice these symptoms right away, and a checklist alone cant determine if a person has a dementia-related disorder. In fact, not even a test can do so.
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Caring For A Parent With Dementia At Home And When To Consider Memory Care Assisted Living
Hearing the doctor tell your mom or dad they have Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia is upsetting for both you and your parent. Once the initial shock subsides, there are steps you can take to feel less anxious about what lies ahead, prepare for the different levels of care your parent will need, learn how to cope with the diagnosis and help your parent continue to fill their days with meaning and joy.
If My Parent Has Dementia What Are The Next Steps
Only a doctor can make a dementia diagnosis. Its possible that these symptoms are being caused from something else like depression, an infection, a brain tumor or certain medications.
If the doctor does diagnose your loved one with dementia, changes will need to be made to keep your parent safe and healthy. Dementia does not mean the end of an active, fulfilling life, but this is a progressive disease that will get worse over time.
Some people are able to live independently for months or years, while others need immediate help with dementia care in Simi Valley. The right senior living community can support your loved one and encourage them to lead a vibrant life that is filled with activities, socialization and comfortable amenities.
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Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
What To Know About Dementia
Here’s what you should know about about dementia signs, symptoms, causes, and coping:
- Dementia is a catchall term to describe the symptoms of the group of brain disorders associated with cognitive decline.
- Types of dementia include Alzheimers, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.
- Early signs of dementia include trouble remembering newly-learned information, misplacing items, trouble reasoning, and poor judgment.
- Conditions linked to dementia include traumatic brain injury, Parkinsons disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Huntington’s disease.
- Development of dementia symptoms increases with age, but people of all ages can experience them, depending on the cause.
- Some conditions associated with dementia-like symptoms are treatable or reversible, such as brain tumors, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid problems, and immune disorders.
- Diet and exercise, managing cardiovascular health, and refraining from drinking and smoking, are some steps people can take to maintain their cognitive health.
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Know The Signs Of Dementia
Early diagnosis can help people with dementia plan for the future, and might mean they can access interventions that help slow down the disease. Being familiar with the signs of dementia can help people receive a diagnosis as early as possible.
Early signs that a person might have dementia can include:
- being vague in everyday conversations
- memory loss that affects day-to-day function
- short term memory loss
- difficulty performing everyday tasks and taking longer to do routine tasks
- losing enthusiasm or interest in regular activities
- difficulties in thinking or saying the right words
- changes in personality or behaviour
- finding it difficult to follow instructions
- finding it difficult to follow stories
- increased emotional unpredictability.
Becoming Confused In Familiar Surroundings
This is different to: getting confused about the day of the week but working it out later.
Your parent may forget where they are and how they got there. Along with losing track of dates, seasons and the time this is one of the most tell-tale signs of early onset dementia.
They may also struggle to understand something if its not happening immediately. This is because the mind of someone with dementia is mostly situated in the present and they find it difficult to comprehend the passage of time.
For example, your mum may tell you shes missed you because she thinks she hasnt seen you in a long time, but in reality you visited her last week. Another example includes time passing very slowly in a general sense: ten minutes might seem like an hour, an hour might seem like a day and so on.
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Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia
When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:
- Delusional behavior
Be Ready To Retreat And Regroup
Despite your best efforts and intentions, when you sit down with your parents to talk about what youve been noticing, they might not not want to talk about it the first time you try to bring it up. They may respond with denial or even hostility. In those cases, stay calm and remember that you get more than one shot at this conversation. They may get angry, upset, defensive, or simply refuse to talk about it, Drew said. Unless its a crisis situation, dont force the conversation. Take a step back, regroup on the approach and revisit the subject in a week or two.
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How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia
Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.
My Mother Keeps Repeating Herself
While increased awareness is certainly a good thing, its difficult to distinguish between the common effects of aging and signs of early-stage dementia.
Keep in mind that there are still no medical tests to confirm dementia or Alzheimers with absolute certainty, so its even a challenge for medical professionals to draw the line between senility and dementia.
So, while its important to keep an eye out for the 10 signs of dementia in aging family members, its even more important to be patient and supportive.
Even if youve heard the same story 10 times today and triple that over the course of the week, its critical to preserve the seniors sense of dignity and respect especially if you suspect that theyre showing signs of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
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Unable To Follow A Set Of Steps
The early signs of dementia in parents often include being unable to follow a series of steps, such as following a recipe or folding laundry.
As dementia progresses, it may be challenging for your parents to complete everyday activities that were once second nature. Skipping steps or forgetting how to do a common task is a key behavior indicator to watch for when wondering, Does my mother have dementia?