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Detecting the Signs of Dementia in Loved Ones

And Dealing With the Stresses of Caregiving 

Dementia in older loved ones is complicated and frightening. But there is some early educating you can do to prepare yourself and understand what may be happening before it gets worse.

Dementia is highly variable, and for some, it doesn’t rapidly worsen. It also does not always mean someone will go on to have Alzheimer’s, though that is not uncommon if the dementia keeps progressing significantly.

Memory loss alone is not necessarily the same as dementia. A diagnosis of dementia is usually characterized by short-term memory loss as well as impairments in one or more of the following cognitive areas:

  • Language
  • Communication
  • Focus
  • Reasoning

More specifically:

  • There can be difficulty finding the right words, changes in a mood, and a pronounced increase in apathy/lack of interest in normal enjoyments, and less mobility.
  • Doing normal tasks become more challenging, more unexplained confusion, difficulty in following stories when you or others tell them, uncertainty and difficulty in driving.
  • There can be resistance to any marked changes in schedules — there is strong comfort in the receptive predictability of daily basic activities.

A combination of a few of these symptoms certainly means you should get your loved one to a specialist for further testing.

If dementia worsens, you and your family members and other loved ones should consider some care training, usually offered by your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. Other things to consider include: reading up on dementia, joining support and chat groups.

Considerations For You as an Early Caregiver

  • Take note of increasing, frequent frustration. Learn the warning signs, prepare yourself to seek calm in reliable ways, and develop strategies for recognizing and reducing stress and anxiety.
  • You will likely become on-edge emotionally, as you see your loved one struggle and yourself feel relatively helpless
  • Understand that it’s important for you to speak clearly and assertively with your loved one suffering from dementia, as well as your family members. You should address your own needs and opinions, even as others are focusing on their own.
  • Become clear and accepting of what you can change and what you cannot

Know When to Ask for Help

There are several medically recognized stages of dementia. Generally speaking, when someone is said to have moderate or severe impairment, he or she is likely to need considerable personal care, the type provide by home health care agencies.

Nurse Care of North Carolina has experienced professionals to work with you and your loved ones arrange for the right person and the right amount of assistance over time.

Sources:

healthline.com — early warning signs for dementia

everydayhealth.com — the seven stages of dementia

caregiver.org — dementia caregiving

Nurse Care NC is a premium health care services company, providing in-home care and medical staffing needs to the Central and Eastern North Carolina communities.