Dementia care guide

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If you or a loved one is dealing with a dementia diagnosis, you’re far from alone. The latest estimates from the Alzheimer’s Association indicate that nearly 5 million Americans are currently living with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and Alzheimer’s patients account for only 60-80% of total dementia patients.

 

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“You have to shift the paradigm of defeat by ‘flipping the pain.’ Alzheimer’s disease is going to win. It will take my husband, but it will not take me. I’m going to fight for the next generation.”
– Meryl Comer

10 Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

Forgetting new information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. Forgetting important events and asking for the same information over and over are also common symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s disease. What’s typical? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally and remembering them later.

People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game. What’s typical? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.

People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the word “toothbrush,” for example, and instead ask for “that thing for my mouth.” What’s typical? Occasionally having trouble finding the right word.

People with Alzheimer’s can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home. What’s typical? Momentarily forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.

Those with Alzheimer’s may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers. What’s typical? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.

Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used. What’s typical? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.

A person with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. What’s typical? Misplacing keys or a wallet, but being able to retrace steps to find it later.

Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm, to tears, to anger and aggression – for no apparent reason. They may become extremely confused, anxious, suspicious or dependent on a family member. What’s typical? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.

For some people, a change in visual processing may be a sign of early Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. What’s typical? Vision changes related to cataracts.

A person with early stage Alzheimer’s disease may avoid being social because of the changes they’ve experienced. They may remove themselves from sports, social events and hobbies. They may become passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleep more than usual or not want to perform daily living activities. What’s typical? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.

In addition to these signs, keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to check with a doctor if a person’s level of function seems to be changing rapidly. The earlier you recognize that dementia is developing, the sooner you can mitigate its effects.

The Stages of Dementia

No Cognitive Impairment

Though it may seem odd, the lowest dementia stage on the scale is normal mental functioning, or no cognitive impairment.

Very Mild Cognitive Decline

Where the heck did I put my keys? What was that person’s name? According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s

Mild Cognitive Decline

When memory and cognitive problems become more regular, as well as noticeable to caregivers and loved ones, a

Moderate Cognitive Decline

At this point, a person has clearly visible signs of mental impairment that point to early-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline

This stage marks the onset of what many professionals refer to as mid-stage dementia. At this point, a person may no longer be able to carry out normal day-to-day activities, such as dressing or bathing, without some caregiver assistance.

Severe Cognitive Decline

Characterized by a need for a caregiver help to perform even basic daily activities, such as dressing, eating, using the toilet and other self-care.

Very Severe Cognitive Decline

In severe Alzheimer’s disease or late-stage dementia, people are essentially unable to care for themselves, and suffer from both communication and motor impairment.

Download A Place For Mom’s ‘Dementia Care Guide’ to learn more about this disease and memory care.

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