Monday, March 02, 2020

Have You Seen the First Signs of Alzheimer’s?

It starts with something small. You notice in a conversation that your parent asks a question that you swore you answered ten minutes ago. Later during the visit, they ask you the same question again. You know you answered it. So, what’s going on?

Sadly, this could be one of the first signs that your parent is dealing with memory loss. If it continues to progress, they could be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Read ahead to find out the common signs associated with Alzheimer’s and what you can do to take care of your parent now and in the future.

What Are Some Other Signs?

Repeating questions or phrases is not the only sign that your parent could be developing Alzheimer’s disease. These are some other common symptoms to look out for:

•    Misplacing items in strange places (keys in the refrigerator, wallet in the linen closet)
•    Misremembering or forgetting conversations and events
•    Forgetting important tasks (paying bills on time, missing appointments)
•    Getting lost in familiar locations
•    Wandering off without remembering why
•    Difficulty concentrating on tasks and conversations
•    Changes in behaviour (mood swings, loss of inhibition, delusions)

If your parent doesn’t seem to be remembering things as well as they used to or repeat sentences more often, do not panic. Approximately 40% of people above the age of 65 live with memory loss of some kind — that’s close to half of all seniors. Their small lapses in memory could just be a part of their natural aging process. They might not have Alzheimer’s.

If you notice more than a few of these symptoms, suggest that your parent visit their doctor. The doctor will make a note of the current signs, do physical exams, and do brain imaging tests to check for cognitive changes. The disease is progressive, so you may need to keep a close eye on your parent from now on.

What Can You Do If They Have Alzheimer’s?

Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s may not be safe to live at home alone. If you’re worried that they’re at risk of accidentally harming themselves or wandering off, you should talk to them about moving to a retirement facility. A top-quality facility will have services for assisted living, full care, and memory care. So, you can get them the help they need and rest easy knowing that they will be around a professional nursing staff that’s available 24-hours a day. 

Moving into a retirement facility does more than provide your parent with around the clock care and security. The decision could improve their health and well-being. Living in isolation can intensify feelings of loneliness and depression and worsen symptoms of memory loss. On the other hand, social interaction can improve their quality of life. So, a facility that encourages residents to participate in activities could be the best thing for them.

After making sure that your parent has help, you need to make sure that you get help, too. Loving a person with Alzheimer’s can be very hard. Check out support groups or reach out to a mental health professional when you get overwhelmed. Think of it this way: taking care of yourself will make it easier for you to be there for your parent.

This is a guest blog entry.

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