Forgetfulness happens to everyone at some point. Older adults who forget appointments or to pay bills once in a while have no need for concern. However, such normal memory loss differs from the memory loss associated with dementia. Seniors should consult their doctor about concerning memory issues.
A certain degree of memory loss, plus a decline in general cognitive skills, is a normal part of the aging process. Normal age-related memory loss does not interfere with a senior’s daily functioning. The older adult may forget a name, for instance, but recall it later on that day.
Other examples of normal age-related memory loss include misplacing glasses or car keys. The senior may need to write down appointments more often in order to remember them. These manageable changes in memory do not disrupt the senior’s ability to work, socialize or live independently.
Memory loss that is caused by dementia, however, should be concerning. Dementia itself is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms, including impaired judgment, language skills, reasoning and other thinking skills. These symptoms start gradually and worsen over the years.
In time, dementia impairs the senior’s ability to work, interact socially, and remain independent. Memory loss that interferes with an aging adult’s ability to function in daily life is often one of the first signs of dementia. When this occurs, seniors will want to ask their physician the following questions.
What type of dementia is suspected?
Several types of dementias exist, such as Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. Dementia affects cognition, but can also attack speech and language capabilities. Symptoms of different dementias can overlap, making it difficult for a doctor to diagnose the exact type of dementia at first.
How far has the dementia advanced?
Alzheimer’s disease progresses in stages. The first is the early stage, when the senior can function independently. The middle stage follows, when the aging adult can no longer remember things, like his address. The late stage occurs when the senior is unable to respond to his environment.
A doctor may be unable to predict the course of dementia, since the condition affects the elderly in different ways. Seniors can remain independent for years, while others decline rapidly. But understanding the severity of the dementia can help patients plan for the future.
What dementia symptoms can be anticipated?
The senior’s physician can provide an overview of common symptoms dementia patients frequently face. Emotions that dementia patients experience include agitation or frustration, especially in the evenings, as well as depression. Confusion is another symptom that affects seniors with dementia.
Physical symptoms also occur, such as the loss of bodily functions. The loss of bowel and bladder control can lead to incontinence. Urinary tract infections are common. The late stage of Alzheimer’s can cause difficulty chewing and swallowing. Falls occur frequently due to a change in depth perception.
Can medications treat dementia symptoms?
Drugs do not stop the progression of dementia. The senior’s physician, however, may recommend medications to briefly relieve problems with memory and alertness. Drugs prescribed for dementia symptoms include Aricept or Exelon for mild and moderate dementia or Namenda for severe dementia.
Anxious or depressed seniors will find relief from psychiatric medications. Elderly individuals and their caregivers should ask the doctor about possible side effects of medicines, as well as interactions with herbal remedies, supplements, or other drugs that the senior currently takes.
What non-drug treatments improve symptoms?
Nutrition and hydration continue to be important in maintaining brain health. The senior’s doctor may also recommend other non-drug treatments, such as regular exercise, to improve memory. Physically active seniors are better able to slow the progression of cognitive decline than sedentary individuals.
Ask the physician for a referral to an occupational therapist. This healthcare professional can help the older adult learn coping mechanisms as the dementia progresses. The therapist may suggest making home modifications or buying equipment that will make living at home safer for the senior.
Can a dementia patient continue to live at home?
A doctor’s assessment can inform families whether or not it is safe for an elderly loved one with dementia to live independently at home. Ask the physician for recommendations about available services that could facilitate aging in place. The doctor may suggest in-home memory care.
Dementia is degenerative in nature, meaning the symptoms only worsen with time. When dementia reaches the most advanced and severe stage, the dementia patient will be entirely reliant on others for all self-care activities. Hospice care at home can provide comfort during the late stage of dementia.
Memory Care from Assisting Hands
When memory loss disrupts daily life, seniors should consult a doctor. If a dementia diagnosis is given, it can be terrifying. However, life can be filled with joy after receiving the diagnosis. The key is to find the right support, like the quality memory care from Assisting Hands Home Care.
As a well-recognized home care agency, we offer compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care to seniors at any stage of the disease. Our non-medical care services are provided at home, which allows the senior to remain in secure, familiar surroundings and prevents disorientation.
Professional memory caregivers are experienced in identifying and handling various dementia symptoms. Agitation is reduced with positive reinforcement. Incontinence issues are handled discreetly and respectfully. We also engage in mentally stimulating exercises, like playing card games and assembling puzzles together, to keep seniors alert.
In addition to keeping seniors mentally engaged through music, craft projects, and outings, caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care provide support with the activities of daily living. We help with personal hygiene tasks, prepare meals, shop for groceries, give medication reminders, and provide transportation.
Our services are flexible and include around-the-clock home care, after surgery care, and respite care. No matter what form of care the senior needs, Assisting Hands Home Care can customize a care plan. We serve seniors in and around West Norriton, Pennsylvania. Call today to schedule an in-home consultation for dementia care.