My parents ran their own Company for 40 years and now can’t remember to do things they’ve done everyday on their own for 60 years. When is the right time to call in help?
Looking after someone with Alzheimer’s is a tough task, one that can give dementia caregivers an enormous amount of stress. However, if you recognize someone with Dementia, you know that the position brings joy into your life and is extremely rewarding if you detect it in the initial stages. You can take better health precautions and check your progress. If the condition remains unchanged, you can consult your doctor on time before it is too late.
When it comes to our parents, we are usually more sensible and proactive. But, it takes a lot of patience and flexibility for the dementia caregivers to get rid of all the frustration specially when it comes to understanding that your loved ones are suffering from this life-threatening disease. Nevertheless, there are some helpful ways to approach this difficult subject.
Learn more with us about ways to look after your parents with Dementia. This will help you decide if you require dementia caregivers to ease the process of caretaking.
Initial Signs and Symptoms
If you detect signs in your parents at the early stages or witness memory problems in them, don’t immediately conclude that it is Dementia. A person needs to have minimum two types of the following impairments that significantly hinder everyday activities to receive a Dementia diagnosis.
A shift in short-term memory: The trouble with memory is an early sign of Dementia. The changes are often subtle and involve short-term memory. An older adult will remember events that took place years ago but will forget what they had for breakfast. In this case, a lot patience is expected from dementia caregivers towards their patients to avoid any conflicts with them.
Other red flags of a switch in short-term memory include forgetting simple things like where they left an item, struggling to remember their purpose of entering a particular room, or forgetting what they are supposed to do on any given day.
Difficulty in conversing effectively: Another symptom of Dementia is struggling to express thoughts. A person with Dementia has difficulty in explaining something or finding the right person to talk. Conversing with a person who has Dementia is difficult, and that is why it is tough to conclude that they are suffering from this disorder.
Mood swings: A dip in the mood is ubiquitous in Dementia. It is tough to recognize this in yourself but more natural to notice this change in someone else. Depression, for instance, a typical sign of early Dementia, can be noticed easily in someone else. Dementia caregivers generally face this symptom more often as they are a new face in the patient’s life.
Along with mood changes, you will also see a shift in personality. A major personality change witnesses a person change from being too shy to surprisingly outgoing.
Loss of interest in daily activities: Apathy, or restlessness, commonly occurs in early dementia. A person with this symptom loses interest in hobbies or activities. They may not want to go outdoors or do anything which used to excite them before. They lose interest in spending time with loved ones and are emotionally flat or distant.
Failure in understanding directions: The sense of direction and spatial orientation starts to deteriorate with the onset of Dementia. This means not recognizing once-familiar landmarks and remembering regularly used directions. It also becomes increasingly difficult to follow a series of guidelines and step-by-step instructions.
Always in a state of confusion: Someone in the early ages of Dementia may often stay confused. When memory, thoughts, or judgment lapses, confusion arises. They no longer remember faces, find the right words, or interact with people effectively.
Difficulty in adapting to changes: In the early stages of experiencing Dementia, it causes fear in the patient. Suddenly, they cannot remember somebody they know or follow what others are saying. They also fail to recognize why they went to the local grocery store and tend to lose their way back home. Due to this, they crave to follow a routine and are afraid to try new experiences. They prefer to stay in their state of isolation and avoid any kind of human contact possible.
Being repetitive: Repetition is typical in Dementia because of memory loss and common behavioral changes. The person tends to repeat daily tasks, such as shaving, or collecting items excessively. They also tend to repeat the same questions in a conversation after the responses are given already.
Difficulty following what someone says: Patients who have Dementia find it difficult to concentrate or follow storylines. Just as finding and using the right words become tough, people with Dementia sometimes forget the meanings of words they hear. They even struggle to follow along with conversations or keeping up with TV programs.
Amnesia and memory problems don’t automatically indicate Dementia. They are common factors of aging and can also occur due to other reasons, such as fatigue or stress. Still, you should not ignore the symptoms. If you find these signs in your loved ones and don’t see any improvements, talk to a doctor.
The doctor directs you to a neurologist who examines the patient’s physical and mental health and determines whether the symptoms result from Dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor usually advises:
- A complete series of memory and psychological examinations
- A neurological test
- Blood tests
- Brain imaging tests
As dementia caregivers, it can be challenging to find enough time for your senior loved one, let alone yourself – even if your family member is in residential care.
Although it can be hard, especially as the disease progresses — to help look after your parents with Dementia, there are things you can do to help erase the frustration and increase your patience while caring for them.
Harmony Caregiving is here to support you and your loved one who has Dementia. To define your health and wellness goals, reach out to us at our Edmonton Dementia Care Service.