Knowing The Stages Of Dementia Helps You Plan
Even if the stages arent exact and symptoms can still be unpredictable, being able to plan ahead is essential.
The truth is that Alzheimers and dementia care is expensive and time-consuming. Being financially prepared for increasing care needs is a necessity.
On an emotional level, having an idea of what symptoms to expect helps you find ways to cope with challenging behaviors.
It also gives you a chance to mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable changes in your older adult.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dementia Symptoms
My dad seems to be tired all the time lately how do I know the difference between age-related changes and dementia symptoms?
Sleep disruption is common with regards to both age-related sleep patterns and signs of early onset dementia so it can be tricky to work out whats going on. But if you look out for accompanying symptoms specific to dementia you may be able to tell the difference. If you suspect it is more than just sleepiness make an appointment with your parents GP.For more information on how dementia symptoms can affect sleep please read our article on dementia and sleep.
What do I do if I think my mum or dad has dementia?
The GP should be the first point of call if you suspect your parent is suffering from signs of early onset dementia. If the doctor suspects your parent has dementia they will refer them to a memory clinic or specialist. For further details on the process please visit our guide on diagnosing dementia.
How does the dementia diagnosis process work?How are dementia symptoms treated?
Unfortunately, dementia cant be cured but it can be slowed down significantly, especially if diagnosed earlier on. For more details on drugs used, visit our guide on dementia treatment.
Take Care Of Yourself Financially Emotionally And Physically
Dementia takes a severe toll on your parents. However, it will affect you as well. For example, you will see your loved one lose the precious memories that they had of you. You will also feel the pressure of applying physical and financial effort into the care of a person suffering from dementia. In some cases, you can risk falling into depression unless you take care of yourself. You have to start doing that now before the disease in your parent progresses. Begin by joining support groups for people who are caring for relatives or friends who have dementia. Share your experiences with them and get ideas from them as well. You also need to prepare yourself financially. Make sure that you have an adequate level of savings to take care of another dependent. Moreover, start planning your schedule for significant changes as time progresses. For example, make room for helping your parent with his or her daily routines.
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Putting Things In The Wrong Place
This is different to: more normal age-related behaviours such as losing things but being able to retrace the steps to find them.
Losing things or putting things in strange places, and then being unable to retrace steps to find them again, is on the official observation list for early signs of dementia.
Sometimes someone else might be accused of stealing which may occur more frequently over time. For example, your dad may insist that a friend keeps stealing his money, whereas its in its regular hiding place. Other examples that may indicate potential dementia symptoms could include teabags in the fridge or remote control in the cutlery drawer.
Misplacing or losing items is more common in Alzheimers Disease, rather than vascular dementia. Find out more about the different types of dementia.
Key Points About 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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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.
Why Early Diagnosis Of Dementia Is Important
Dementia is a profoundly life-changing condition and reactions to a diagnosis can range from dismay and deep sadness to anger and despair. But for many people, it can also come as a relief. A diagnosis may well provide long-awaited answers for a failing memory, communication problems and changes in behaviour.
An early diagnosis opens the door to future care and treatment. It helps people to plan ahead while they are still able to make important decisions on their care and support needs and on financial and legal matters. It also helps them and their families to receive practical information, advice and guidance as they face new challenges.
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What Is Mixed Dementia
It is common for people with dementia to have more than one form of dementia. For example, many people with dementia have both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Researchers who have conducted autopsy studies have looked at the brains of people who had dementia, and have suggested that most people age 80 and older probably have mixed dementia caused by a combination of brain changes related to Alzheimer’s disease,vascular disease-related processes, or another condition that involves the loss of nerve cell function or structure and nerve cell death .
Scientists are investigating how the underlying disease processes in mixed dementia start and influence each other. Further knowledge gains in this area will help researchers better understand these conditions and develop more personalized prevention and treatment strategies.
Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment. For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves with treatment.
Researchers have also identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. These conditions include:
Difficulty Completing Normal Tasks
A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.
Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
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Dementia In Elderly Parents: Find Hope For Memory Care At Commonwise
Knowing how to tell if a parent has dementia can give you the confidence to approach the symptoms with strength and knowledge. If youve been saying, I think my mother has dementia what should I do? look for these tell-tale signs:
- Unexplained memory loss
- Confusion with time or place
- Difficulty following a set of steps
- Inability to perform complex tasks
- Misplacing things
Alzheimers Behaviors To Track
For each of these behaviors, try to make note of the following:
- Whether theres been a decline or change compared to the way your parent used to be
- Whether this seems to be due to memory and thinking, versus physical limitations such as pain, shortness of breath or physical disabilities
- When you or another person first noticed problems, and what you observed
- What kinds of problems you see your parent having now
If you dont notice a problem in any of the following eight areas, make a note of this. That way youll know you didnt just forget to consider that behavior.
Have you noticed:
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Before Starting A Conversation
If you’ve noticed symptoms of dementia in someone you know, or are concerned about their memory, you should encourage them to see their GP. The GP can refer them for assessment to find out for certain the cause of the problems.
This information will help you to discuss your concerns with someone you are worried about.
Before having a conversation, it can help to think about the questions below.
- What could be stopping them from seeing the GP about their memory problems?
- Have they noticed the symptoms?
- Do they think their problems are just a natural part of ageing?
- Are they scared about what the changes could mean?
- Do they think there wont be any point in seeking help?
- What approach has worked in the past to help persuade them to do something they were unsure about?
- Who could be the best person to approach the subject with them?
- Do they usually prefer to have a lot of information to understand all possibilities, or do they usually prefer to take things one step at a time? You could order or download a copy of our Worried about your memory? booklet if you think they could find it helpful to have written information to look through.
- Might they find it reassuring to have someone offer to go to the GP with them?
Remember that there isnt one approach that is best for everyone, and there isnt a right or wrong way to discuss your concerns.
Accept That Your Marriage Will Change
A spouses role changes several times throughout most marriages to adapt to life changes. One spouse may take on more responsibilities while the other goes to college, for example having children can also change a marriage. The changes that come with dementia can also alter your marriage.
As your spouses dementia progresses, you will have to take on more responsibilities of managing your household and caring for your family. Marriage becomes less and less of an equal partnership your role will shift from being a spouse to a caregiver. You will likely do most of the household chores and handle bill payments, for example, and you will have to make most of the decisions regarding your household and family. As the condition progresses, you will also have to provide an increasing level of supervision of your spouse.
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Create Space For Community
Though you may not realize it, there are many people across the country, and even in your own local area, thinking, My mom has dementia and I dont know what to do!
With many parents and caregivers navigating memory loss, building a community for yourself is keyto finding support. These supports groups can provide encouragement and inspiration during times of great distress or unknown.
Talk To Professionals Who Care For People Living With Dementia
Unfortunately, many people underestimate the toll that taking care of a parent with dementia will have on their lives. They believe that they will look after their parents, the same way their parents looked after them when they were helpless. That is not the case. You need to contact professionals who care for people living with dementia as soon as possible. They will help you when stress seems to be overwhelming you. For example, they will provide 24-hour care allowing you to work so that you can procure the therapies, medication, and food that your parent need. They will help you avoid scenarios where you are angry with your dad or mom for failing to do a simple task. They will counsel you when you experience the pain of your parent losing their memory of who you are. Consequently, you need to contact professional caregivers as well as counsellors for you and your family members.
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Talk With Close Family Members Or Friends
Check in with others who know your loved one to see if theyve noticed any changes. Do this in a respectful, confidential manner to avoid unnecessary hurt or embarrassment.
When Alzheimers strikes, although many people become quite skilled at covering their memory lapses, they find it difficult to maintain that around those who know them well. Its often helpful to verify if others have made similar observations they may have been questioning the same thing and not have known whether to raise the concern or ignore it.
Of course, your objective here is not to spread a rumor or gossip, but rather to collaborate with those closest to your loved one.
How Dementia Is Diagnosed
There is no single test for dementia, and it can be difficult to diagnose the specific type of dementia that a person has. If you want to find out if your parent has dementia or, specifically, Alzheimerâs disease, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your parentâs family care provider.
The primary care provider can do a screening that can help rule out whether your parentâs memory issues are being caused by any treatable conditions. Then, the doctor can refer your parent to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist for additional screening and tests. Snow suggests talking to the providers your parentâs doctor recommends as well as other providers in the same field to find the best fit for your parent. The Alzheimerâs Association has a guide to choosing a doctor to evaluate memory problems.
If the process is rushed and the provider misdiagnosis your parent, you might not be able to persuade your parent to be tested again. âYouâll get one shot at this,â Snow says. âDonât blow it.â
You want someone who is willing to do a thorough assessment and has experience diagnosing a variety of dementia-related diseases. A thorough exam typically will involve the following:
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Recognition And Coordination Difficulties
A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places . They may have difficulty recognising familiar items such as a chair, soap, toothbrush, cutlery, kettle, coffee jar, cooker or fridge.
Signs of a loss of coordination skills can include struggling to undo or do up buttons, to tie or untie shoes and neckties, and to use a hair brush or razor. They may be more subtle, such as putting down a cup of tea too close to the edge of a table or having difficulties lifting a teapot or kettle or using a knife to cut vegetables or fruit.
Encourage Your Parent To Visit Their Doctor
When changes to someone close to you become apparent, its important to encourage them to seek a medical assessment from their doctor.
It can be a difficult conversation to have and youll have to approach the subject with a strategy in mind. Find a comfortable place and determine a time of day when your mom or dad will be most receptive to talking. You might choose to mention the symptoms youve been noticing, and asking how theyve been feeling lately . You can suggest that they see a doctor to discuss their symptoms.
Keep in mind that the conversation might not go as planned. Your parent might not be aware of their symptoms or be in denial of them. They might also be aware of what might be wrong with them and become scared or worried, both perfectly normal reactions. If they do indeed have dementia, and it has progressed from the early stages already, the very nature of the disease might prevent them from recognizing the changes youve noticed and think that the need to see the doctor is unnecessary.
If this is the case, you can always suggest a trip to the doctor for other reasons, such as a blood pressure test or an overall physical checkup. Either give their doctor the heads up about your concerns beforehand or try to accompany your parent to the appointment so you can ensure that their symptoms are mentioned.
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Top Tips For Dealing With A Parent Who Denies Dementia Symptoms
Top Tips for Dealing With a Parent Who Denies Dementia Symptoms
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 50 million people living with dementia. It is the leading cause of a loss of independence in seniors and one of the hardest diseases to accept.
So what do you do when your aging parent refuses to admit there is a problem?