What Does Dementia Look Like?

When caring for a loved one that is exhibiting “different” behavior, it may be helpful to understand the characteristics of dementia as opposed to less serious behaviors that are associated with natural aging.  If the older adult in your care exhibits one or more of the following symptoms, it is time to get your loved one examined for  the dementia care they may need.

Has your Senior developed problems with speaking or writing words?

If you observe your loved one having trouble following or participating in what was previously a normal conversation, it can be one sign of dementia. He or she may stop in the middle of a sentence without knowing how to carry on or may repeat themselves.  Sometimes they may struggle with vocabulary that was previously within their grasp.

Has your Senior started to misplace things more often?

We have all had the experience of losing car keys or forgetting where we left a purse.  Small events of this type are nothing to be too concerned about.  However, people with dementia may experience this more frequently than in the past or put objects in places they have never put them before. Difficulty in retracing his or her steps or accusing others of stealing is also a sign that your senior has experienced a significant shift.

Is your Senior experiencing more dramatic mood swings?

Another observable sign of dementia includes significant mood changes.  They become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. Some seniors experience difficulty handling minor interruptions to their routines.  They then struggle to stabilize their emotions by emoting in ways they did not previously.

Has your Senior started having difficulty completing tasks that were previously routine? 

Some people with dementia generally find it difficult to complete ordinary daily tasks which caused them no difficulty in the past.  This can be as simple as getting lost while driving, playing games they know well or routines like paying bills or remembering to take out the trash on the right day.  While forgetfulness is typical with advancing age, forgetting simple  routine tasks suggests a matter for more concern.

Is your Senior having difficulty keeping track of dates and times?

Dementia can have an impact on a senior being able to keep track of dates and times.  While the here and now can make their behavior seem fairly normal, anything that involves time and distance can create a challenge.  Particularly concerning are situations where the senior forgets where they are when they are in situations that had previously been routine like being in a local store or an oft-visited nearby park.

Are social activities or hobbies of less interest than before?

Over the years interests will naturally change.  However, when your senior dramatically reduces, or completely eliminates, interest in the social activities in which they have participated with some regularity, it is cause for concern.  So to is it concerning when long active hobbies are abandoned suddenly.

Your Senior with dementia can still safely live at home.

Professional agencies that have special training in handling dementia patients are a cost-effective way to allow your loved one with dementia to safely live at home.  While some or most of the routine care can be handled by the family, there are situations where knowledgeable help is needed.  Support from professionals that can expand up to 24-hours per day, if necessary, will allow your loved one to remain in his or her own home much longer.

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