How are you supposed to know if the behaviors you are seeing in an aging loved one are normal, or the early signs of cognitive decline?
We all know that memory loss is a constant thread in aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s, but there are others. One symptom doesn’t necessarily mean that dementia is beginning to occur. However, several may mean that your loved one needs to be seen by a neurologist.
Here is a list of the top five early signs of dementia. Some may surprise you:
1. VISION PROBLEMS
For some, one of the earliest signs of dementia is changes in vision. Your loved one may have trouble reading or seeing the differences in color or contrast. He or she may also begin to experience trouble judging distances which may lead to problems driving. You may see that your loved one is struggling to resolve spatial relationships of various types – the distance between the table and the chair, or the distance between holding a glass and putting it on the shelf.
2. PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING
In the early stages of dementia it begins to be difficult for the sufferer to follow conversations. You may observe your loved one stopping in the middle of a conversation with no idea how to continue. They may struggle to find the right words. We all forget words from time to time and eventually remember them. People with dementia cannot retrieve the word even after trying for a time. Your loved one may also begin to repeat sentences within a conversation or say the same thing repeatedly in a short period of time.
3. POOR JUDGMENT
Dementia changes and decreases one’s ability to make good judgments. Your loved one may ask strangers for odd things like a tissue or a quarter. They may begin to give money to telemarketers or pay less attention to personal grooming.
4. FORGETTING THE SEASONS
If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, he or she may not be able to remember what day, date or season it is. People with dementia may think they are in a different year; one sometime in the past. They may begin to lose the ability to understand that something happened “yesterday” or will happen “tomorrow”. Time begins to shrink and dementia patients only understand what is happening in the here and now. This confusion can extend to an understanding of place. For example, your loved one may be sitting in your living room, but he or she may think they are in another place entirely – usually another place that is familiar and carries fond memories.
5. WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Your usually outgoing loved one may suddenly stop participating in activities, social gatherings and/or hobbies. Dementia may make it difficult to remember how to interact or conduct a hobby. In the early stages of Dementia people realize the changes they are undergoing and as a result may avoid social interactions altogether. The more complicated and noisy the situation, the more difficult it is for them to understand.
If you observe these early signs of dementia in a loved one talk with his or her primary care physician and ask for a referral to a neurologist for testing. Early diagnosis can lead to treatment and strategies that can make life easier and less frustrating for your loved one.
We‘ve worked with thousands of older adults suffering from Alzheimer‘s and dementia, ranging from mild to severe impairment. We understand the importance of comfort and familiarity for our clients who suffer from dementia and that the right - often a familiar - environment and an experienced and skilled caregiver can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day. Our first priority is to maintain a safe home environment, so your loved one can continue to age in place. In addition, we are committed to long-term caregiver relationships - most of our clients choose to have the same caregiver work with them for years. The consistency of our staffing allows your loved one to build a bond with our caregiver and to think of us like family.
Thanks for your ongoing support. You and your staff have increased the quality of life for me and my mother. From the transition from the nursing home to a higher quality of life at home. Everyone has been great and knowledgeable about providing care for elderly people, especially those with Alzheimer‘s disease and dementia. My mother is thrilled to be home. - Charles G. and Virginia Cawley
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can make families feel helpless, but with Home Care Assistance of Prescott, help is just a phone call away. Learn more about our comprehensive and customized care plans by calling a dedicated Care Manager at 928-771-0105. On call 24/7, our Care Managers can help you set up a free, in-home consultation so that you can get to know us face-to-face.