It’s not unusual to experience a little forgetfulness — misplacing car keys, forgetting someone’s name — as we age. But if you start to notice more profound memory loss in a loved one, how do you know if it’s normal aging or the early signs of dementia? This blog post will discuss the forms of dementia, its signs and stages, and what to know about memory care.
10 Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Dementia is the term for a group of symptoms that includes Alzheimer’s disease — thought to be caused by the abnormal buildup of amyloid and tau proteins — and diseases of the blood vessels that can cause a stroke. These diseases can cause a significant decline in mental abilities or memory, thinking and reasoning, and could lead to problems paying household bills, using the phone, managing medicines, driving safely or meeting up with friends.
Here are 10 signs of memory loss for people with dementia:
- Easily forgotten: Forgetting recently learned information is one of the common early signs of dementia. Other signs include forgetting important dates or events, repeating the same questions over and over, and increasingly using memory aids.
- Challenges planning or solving problems: Look for changes in the ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. This could also mean having trouble following a familiar recipe, keeping track of monthly bills and difficulty concentrating.
- Problems completing familiar tasks: It can become hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes it may mean having trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
- Time or place confusion: This could result in losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. It could also lead to trouble understanding something if it’s not happening immediately or forgetting where they are or how they got there.
- Difficulty with vision and distance: This can cause trouble with balance or reading. They can also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving.
- Trouble with language: Note if there’s an issue following or joining a conversation.
Or stopping in the middle of a conversation and having no idea how to continue or even repeating themselves. They could even have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name.
- Misplacing things: Someone with dementia could start to put things in unusual places and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. As the disease progresses, they could start to accuse others of stealing.
- Poor judgment: Look for changes in judgment or decision-making, including problems dealing with money or paying less attention to grooming.
- Withdrawal: This could be changes in their ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, they might withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. It may also mean having trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.
- Mood and personality changes: Look for mood and personality changes. They can also become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. And they could be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
3 Stages of Dementia
Defined by three broad stages with specific characteristics, dementia is a progressive disease that can last for years. Once someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it doesn’t automatically mean memory care facilities are the only answer. A Life Care Community like The Buckingham offers a variety of services, so it’s crucial to look at the whole person and be clear about all their needs. The person’s memory loss might be mild enough that you’re considering an assisted living facility. However, to make a potential transition easier, it’s a good idea to consider a community that has assisted living and memory care.
Early-stage dementia: Symptoms can include slight lapses in memory, issues with planning, organizing, concentrating on tasks, or accomplishing tasks at work. During this stage, it’s possible to still function independently and people are often able to drive and maintain a social life. This early stage of dementia, on average, lasts between 2 and 4 years. While it might not be needed at this stage, it’s a good time to start researching assisted living communities.
Middle-stage dementia: This is often the longest stage of the disease, lasting between 2 and 10 years. Memory issues are more severe than in the earlier stage. Communication becomes harder and they may lose track of thoughts, be unable to follow conversations, and have trouble understanding what others are saying. Mood and behavior can also start to change.
As the disease progresses, someone with dementia will start to lose their independence and it’s a good time to move into an assisted living or memory support community. There they can get help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, dressing and more.
Late-stage dementia: This severe stage of dementia, also known as advanced dementia, lasts approximately 1 to 3 years. At this stage, they may require 24-hour supervised care. Communication issues become significant and verbal communication might not happen at all. Memory worsens and your loved one may not be able to remember what they had for lunch and forget family members’ names. It’s possible they may think they’re in a different time period altogether. They also might have difficulty walking and extensive help is needed for daily living activities, including personal hygiene and eating. At the end of this stage, the individual will most likely be bedridden.
Benefits of a Memory Support Community
Designed by dementia care experts, memory support communities promote independence in a safe and homelike setting. Residents receive assistance with activities of daily living and around-the-clock care from a knowledgeable, well-trained staff who get to know their likes and dislikes. Other benefits include:
Total well-being: Communities can offer programs geared specifically to residents with memory loss to enhance their physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual well-being. They can also address wandering, memory impairment and other behaviors.
Improved quality of life: Memory support programs offer increased wellness and nutrition and more social interactions and independence. Services such as daily meals, housekeeping, laundry, and medication management are provided. Living in a community can often result in fewer injuries, falls and visits to hospitals than living at home.
Social opportunities: Memory support communities feature a level of security necessary to keep residents safe, while allowing them to stay socially and intellectually active.
Peace of mind: Knowing your loved one is under the 24-hour care of trained professionals will offer you and your family peace of mind. It will also relieve you from the sometimes difficult task of caring for your loved one.
What to Know about Memory Care Services at The Buckingham
If you’re noticing your loved one is having dementia-related memory issues, talk with your family doctor about possible next steps. When you’re ready to talk with one of our senior living advisors, complete the form at the bottom of the page. They’ll be happy to chat with you about our innovative and dignified approach to memory support available on a direct-entry basis, with no upfront entrance fee.