Published On: October 26, 20225.8 min readCategories: Education

When Memory Issues Become a Problem

Everyone has memory issues.

How many times have you lost your keys? Or come back from the grocery store without the one item you wanted? Or wandered through a parking lot as you beeped your car so you could find it? Or opened the refrigerator door and suddenly didn’t remember why?

Mild forgetfulness is a normal part of aging for everyone. It is usually not a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

But if your Senior loved one is having more severe issues, what should you do? What are the signs of dementia, and how do you spot them?

There is a difference between forgetting to pay a bill on time and being unable to take care of your own finances. Forgetting to turn off a light is okay, but failing to turn off the stove or running bath water is dangerous.

Below are a few quick tips and resources to help you decide how to best support your Senior loved one with increasing cognitive issues.

What’s the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Dementia And Alzheimers

While the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.

Dementia. Dementia is the general term for an impaired ability to remember, think or make decisions to the degree that interferes with everyday activities.

Dementia is not a disease but the result of other diseases, conditions, or injuries. Though dementia primarily affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging.

Dementia ranges in severity. Mild dementia is when it just begins to affect someone’s life activities. Severe dementia causes the Senior to be completely dependent on others for all their daily life activities.

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of the brain and the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60% – 80% of all dementia cases. According to the National Institute of Health, Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. 

At first, Alzheimer’s disease affects the part of the brain associated with learning. Early symptoms usually include changes in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. But as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe, and the Senior can experience confusion, changes in behavior, and more severe challenges.

How Common is Alzheimer’s?

In the US, about 5.8 million people have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And by 2060, that number is estimated to be 14 million people in the US.

What Are Some Common Causes of Dementia?

Dementia - Dementia In Seniors
  • Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common cause of dementia. The disease causes specific physical changes in the brain. Common early symptoms are trouble remembering recent events, like conversations just minutes or hours earlier. As the disease progresses, it becomes more challenging to remember older memories. And the progression eventually includes difficulty with walking or talking and personality changes.
  • Vascular dementia accounts for about 10 percent of dementia cases. These cases are usually caused by blood flow issues to the brain, often during a stroke and mini-strokes. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Lewy body dementia, Lewy body dementia, like most forms of dementia, affects memory loss. But it also causes problems in movement and balance, stiffness, and trembling. It can also result in difficulty in sleeping and visual hallucinations. Seniors who have this dementia may see people, objects, and shapes that are not there.
  • Fronto-temporal dementia. Because of the area of the brain affected, this type of dementia can result in personality and behavioral changes. Affected seniors may behave inappropriately and embarrass themselves. And there are often problems with speaking and understanding language.
  • Mixed dementia. Sometimes a Senior may have more than one type of dementia, especially when aged 80 and above. There might be Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, progressing at different rates and making diagnosing even more difficult.
  • Other Causes of Dementia include
    • Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy
    • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
    • Parkinson’s disease dementia
    • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
    • Huntington’s disease

What Are the Signs of Dementia?

Early Signs Of Dementia - Senior Health

Signs and symptoms may be difficult to notice in the early stages but become more prominent as the condition worsens.

Seniors with dementia have difficulties with

  • Communication
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Problem-solving
  • Vision and perception

Some behavioral signs of dementia might include:

  • Getting lost in their own neighborhood
  • Using unusual words for familiar objects
  • Forgetting names of friends and family
  • Inability to remember old memories
  • Not able to complete everyday tasks independently

Dementia Concerns? – Your Next Best Steps

Home care - Assisted living

First, realize that you are not alone. There are many resources to help. Here are a few steps that can help:

Discussion: Discuss the issues with your Senior loved one. Everyone’s situation is unique to them. Learn about dementia and what is being done for the best quality of life. Talk about daily activities, including driving and keeping identification with them at all times.

Assessment: See a medical professional and get an accurate assessment. There is no single test to diagnose dementia; your doctor may order several tests to pinpoint the diagnosis. These might include

  • Cognitive and Neurophysical tests
  • Neurological evaluation
  • Brain Scans like a CT, MRI, or Pet Scan
  • Laboratory Tests

Family Meeting: Family members want to help and can be a tremendous support resource. Planning is essential. You should have proper documentation to ensure your loved one’s wishes are always carried out, including a Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and estate planning documents.

Review Memory Care Communities and Options: There are assisted living communities with specialized memory care. This includes staff specifically trained in helping Seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive issues.

Stay Informed: Doctors, researchers, and health professionals constantly work on helping those with dementia. There are medicines, therapies, supplements, exercises, and more to help seniors live their best lives.

Institutions like the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, the NIH, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, and more have information and support for Seniors with dementia and their families.

And the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has the latest information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, help, and support, and how you can get involved.

 

Let Us Help

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If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia – let us help.

Florida Senior Consulting helps Seniors and their families navigate the next stage of life while getting the best care possible.

Our extensive knowledge and years of experience allow us to create unique paths forward whether you need in-home care or community living options.

We will listen, answer questions, coordinate healthcare services, and stay by your family’s side along the way—all at no cost to you.

For peace of mind about your loved one’s safety, call us today at (941) 661-6196 or visit us at floridaseniorconsulting.com.