Friends and families should watch for certain dementia symptoms in their beloved seniors. Knowing what these signs are and how to respond compassionately can help the senior manage these symptoms and behaviors. Here, Liberty Resources Home Choices discusses dementia, signs of its onset, and suggestions on how to provide optimal care for those with the condition.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to certain symptoms exhibited by those with damage to the brain, impairing their cognitive capabilities. One of the most common diseases that can cause dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This condition develops when plaque builds up and creates abnormal clumps in the brain, which disrupts its normal functions. These buildups can cause a myriad of dementia symptoms that caregivers should be aware of.
What Are the Typical Signs of Dementia?
Several indicators may mean a person is developing dementia. They include cognitive changes that include:
It’s normal to occasionally forget keys and other small items. However, those with dementia can regularly forget where they placed household items, miss scheduled appointments, forget how to prepare meals, and not find locations they once regularly visited. It’s common for those with dementia to experience short-term memory loss while also forgetting the names and faces of familiar people.
Seniors and others with dementia may find it difficult to recall and use common words or phrases. They may also have trouble concentrating on or following a conversation they once found easy to engage in.
Difficulty with Simple Tasks
Those with dementia often struggle to complete simple and familiar daily tasks, such as preparing their meals, homemaking, getting dressed, or buying groceries at the store. This can lead to additional health issues if left unchecked.
Declining Visual and Spatial Capabilities
Individuals with dementia may have trouble gauging distances or spatial variations and can have a hard time performing certain motor skills. These tasks can include walking, climbing stairs, sitting down, cooking, and driving, among other activities.
Repeating Statements or Questions
A tell-tale sign of general dementia is the repetition of the same or similar phrases and questions. This is usually a side effect of memory loss.
Disorientation and Getting Lost
Dementia can cause a person to become disoriented, even in environments they know well. They may get lost on a familiar route, such as driving to the supermarket or post office.
Most of these dementia symptoms are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Other neurological diseases can result in signs of dementia that include:
- Muscle weakness and stroke-like symptoms
- Personality changes, including aloofness, aggression, and emotional sensitivity
- Reduced social acuity and less interpersonal tact
- Obsessing over and acting out popular fads and trends
If a loved one is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, they should speak with their doctor about neurological testing and dementia care.
Ways to Manage Dementia Symptoms
There are ways to mitigate the symptoms of dementia. Doctors and medical professionals recommend several practices that can help those with dementia, ensuring they have a safe and manageable environment. Suggestions for caregivers include:
Maintain a Routine
Helping to set a regular schedule can help a person with dementia complete tasks, providing a sense of accomplishment and autonomy.
Set up the person for success through cues and careful placement of possessions. For instance, set out bathroom toiletries in the order they should be completed, letting your loved one do the tasks themselves as much as possible. The same can be done with clothing and shoes.
Take Your Time
Expect that projects and minor tasks will take longer for a person with dementia to complete than they used to. Provide break times when necessary to help them from becoming frustrated.
Other suggestions for caretakers include providing short and one-step instructions. Limiting napping and distractions such as TV or loud music can enable focus and concentration. In addition, limited amounts of exercise may help those with dementia maintain their health, well-being, and optimism.
Get Dementia Support from Liberty Resources Home Choices
For over 40 years, Liberty Resources Home Choices has been dedicated to helping seniors and individuals with disabilities receive the support and healthcare they need to thrive. Our team serves individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Lehigh Valley. We are trained to recognize dementia symptoms and offer an array of in-home services that include respite care. To find out more about how we can help you and your loved one, contact us today.