Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is one of the most challenging disorders for families to navigate. It can be extremely difficult for families to see their loved ones suffer and decline before their eyes, starting with slight changes to more severe forms.
Early identification can help both sufferers and families alike to adjust to their new reality of this disease. One of the biggest challenges is that dementia affects everyone differently. There is not a “typical” case of dementia, and you don’t know exactly how it will affect your loved one. Each case can vary, depending on factors like whether the person has other diseases, their medications, and their environment.
Coming to Terms with an Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis
When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia, you may be in disbelief or denial. It’s normal to want to make excuses for the person you love and not want to admit they have the disease.
You may read about the typical symptoms of dementia, like forgetfulness, agitation, depression, and cognitive loss. But you may not pick up on the other symptoms that come along with this disease. Even when you understand the other symptoms, it is very easy to deny the reality of the disease. It is very important for family members to understand their loved one’s symptoms and work with them to help keep them connected and engaged.
People who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia will find that their cognitive abilities change and they suffer from memory loss. It can start at a very minimal level and then progress quickly or wax and wane slowly.
Dementia patients can lose the ability to perform simple tasks that were part of their daily routine. The more severe forms of Alzheimer’s can result in such loss of function in the brain that it can result in death.
Typically, the memory loss is about small things and involves short term memory. Some people may struggle to organize their thoughts when having a conversation. Or, they forget the conversation even happened. They get lost easily or can’t find where they parked their car.
It’s true that many people have these issues with their memory as they age. This can sometimes lead you to ignore the early symptoms. It’s critical to note that memory loss from Alzheimer’s and dementia gets worse over time. The memory loss from Alzheimer’s and dementia can cause people to act differently. The changes to a person’s brain can vastly affect their behavior and you might not even recognize the person they become.
Some of the changes can include:
- Personality Changes: They may become apathetic. They don’t have the same taste in food and don’t care about eating or going out. Others can find themselves irritable, full of mood swings, or struggle to trust others and act socially.
- Anxiety: The memory loss causes anxiety. They don’t want to try and have a conversation or go anywhere because they are aware of their decline and don’t want to show others.
- Opposition: They refuse to take showers, eat their favorite meals, or go on a drive which they used to love to do.
- Confusion: They think they remember something that didn’t happen or insist an event didn’t happen when it did.
- Forgetting the Basics: Forgetting names, dates, phone numbers, or directions that they used to always know.
- Forgetting Recent Conversations: Entire conversations may be forgotten or they may forget selective statements from a conversation.
- Resistance to Change: They feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings and people. They don’t want to go anywhere new or be around people they don’t know.
- Living in the Past: They go back to a happier time, when they were with their parents, or deceased spouse.
- Depression/Isolation: Since they can no longer drive or do the things they liked to do, they tend to sit and watch television. This isolation is very dangerous since they aren’t connecting or engaging with family or friends. This leads to depression, which can lead to further physical limitations.
- Paranoia: They start thinking you are plotting against them and wanting them to go somewhere they don’t want to go.
- Resentment: They don’t understand their situation and blame you for taking away the freedoms they used to have.
- Issues With Events: The bigger the event and noise level, the less they want to attend. Some forget about making it to events or appointments. In turn, it’s possible sufferers may attend events, but then forget about them.
- Misplacing Items: Forgetting where an item has been put, or placing an item in an unexpected location is quite common.
- Getting Lost: Everyone may get lost sometime, but it’s common for people with Alzheimer’s to get lost in locations that are common to them.
- Struggles with Reasoning: Many have trouble with specific types of reasoning, like math. It’s also hard for them to complete multiple tasks at once.
- Odd Choices: They may make choices that are not normal for them. For example, they may dress in clothes completely opposite to the weather.
- Isolation: Eventually people with Alzheimer’s or dementia may just lose their appetite for eating and life in general.
Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can have some or many of these symptoms.
It is important to learn as much as you can about the disease and get support for you and your loved one. A key factor in keeping your loved one engaged and happy is providing the right setting and care so they can stay connected and avoid succumbing to the pitfalls of this disease.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and you need support, we can help. please reach out to us for a Complimentary In-Home Assessment at our Toll-free number: (844) 785-2273.