Noticing the Signs of Dementia in a Loved One

As our loved ones age we sometimes overlook their memory loss and inability to do certain tasks as natural consequences of growing older.

It is vital to know what dementia is and the subtle signs of it, as older age increases the risk of dementia forming. This is important because there are 9.9 million new cases of dementia every year worldwide.

What is dementia?

The words dementia and Alzheimer’s are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are two different conditions. Dementia is not a disease, but an overall term used to describe symptoms that affect memory, performance of daily activities and communication. Alzheimer’s is a disease, which is the most common type of dementia.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

Each person is different when it comes to signs and symptoms of dementia as it affects people at different rates. According to the World Health Organization, dementia and its symptoms can be understood in three stages.

Early stage: often overlooked because of gradual onset

  • Forgetfulness
  • Losing track of time
  • Becoming lost in familiar places

Middle stage: signs become clearer

  • Forgetting recent events and people’s names
  • Becoming lost at home
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Needing help with personal care
  • Behavior changes, such as wandering and repeating questions

Late stage: nearing total dependence

  • Unaware of time and places
  • Difficulty recognizing relatives and friends
  • Increased need for assisted personal care
  • Difficulty walking
  • Behavior changes, such as aggression

What is the first step if I think my loved one has dementia?

The most important thing at this point is to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional. An early diagnosis can allow for the best possible management of their health.

Sit down with your loved one and talk to them about making an appointment with their primary care physician. To prepare for this appointment make sure to record the symptoms you have noticed, as well as have an up-to-date list of all their medications. From there the doctor can help you and your loved one decide what the next step is.

During this time, make sure to take care of yourself as well. Being a caregiver for a loved one can be challenging mentally, physically and emotionally. Have a support system and do not be afraid to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Find more information on self-care as a caregiver here.

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Photo Credit: yomo 13

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