The winter holidays are a joyful time when families gather together to celebrate the season. It also is a time when family members gather and might notice changes in older loved ones. These changes can lead to health questions such as, “Is it time for Alzheimer’s care?”
As we get older, it is normal to experience forgetfulness such as being unable to recall names or misplacing everyday items. Signs Alzheimer’s care may be necessary are more severe.
Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and related dementias
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Forgetting recently learned information and the increasing need to write notes and reminders to complete daily tasks may be a sign an individual may require memory support services. For example, a senior may ask the same questions over and over, scribble notes about basic everyday activities like taking medications or feeding a pet and forget to cook meals.
- Disorientation to time and place. People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home. This may cause individuals to wander, making dementia care in a secured setting a safe option.
- Reduced ability to solve problems or complete familiar tasks. Making occasional errors or having difficulty concentrating on a task is not uncommon. Alzheimer’s care may be needed when a senior is experiencing serious challenges following simple instructions or completing simple everyday tasks such as managing a budget and losing track of dates.
- Challenges with speaking or writing. While it is completely normal to be unable to come up with words now and again, the problem is much more pronounced in seniors who may need Alzheimer’s care. In these cases, people tend to have difficulty recalling basic words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. For example, they may be unable to find a glass and instead ask for “that thing that holds water.”
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. This behavior is far worse than simply misplacing your keys. People may put things in unusual places where they do not belong and cannot be found. For example, putting a flashlight in the freezer. As things go “missing,” some individuals who may require memory support services may begin accusing others of stealing because they are losing items.
- Changes in mood, personality and hygiene. Everyone can get cranky for a day. It may become worrisome when family members notice a loved one is experiencing increased incidences of confusion, fear, depression, anxiety and becoming easily upset. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason. They also may pay less attention to personal cleanliness and grooming. These may be signs that a senior will benefit greatly by receiving Alzheimer’s care.
- Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers or falling for multiple scams. Other signs of dementia are dressing incorrectly for the weather such as wearing several layers on a warm day or donning summer clothing during cold winter months. Alzheimer’s care can help seniors avoid making these errors.
- Issues with vision and visual judgement. Some individuals receiving Alzheimer’s care may experience vision problems. This leads to difficulty reading, judging distances and determining colors and contrast.
Questions to ask about your loved one
Finding Alzheimer’s care can be very challenging, whether considering care at home or in a retirement community. Families need to evaluate their own unique situation. Country Meadows developed this list of questions for families to discuss to help make the best decision for a senior who may require Alzheimer’s care.
Alzheimer’s care next steps
If you recognize any warning signs in yourself or a loved one, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends consulting a doctor. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other disorders causing dementia is an important step to getting appropriate treatment, care and support services.
Country Meadows offers Alzheimer’s care at its on nine locations in Pennsylvania and one in Frederick, Maryland. If you would like more information about how we can support you or a loved one, please contact us today.