How to Catch the Early Signs of Dementia and Alzheimer's
Dementia is an overarching term used to describe symptoms of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and other types. These diseases cause changes in the brain that can affect emotions, visual perception, thinking, language and problem-solving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occasionally misplacing keys, struggling to find a word and remembering it later or forgetting an acquaintance's name are signs of normal age-related brain changes. However, the CDC notes that "people with dementia have problems with:
- Reasoning, judgment and problem solving
- Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision."
The CDC also provides some examples of situations that "may point to dementia including:
- Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
- Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
- Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
- Forgetting old memories
- Not being able to complete tasks independently."
Signs of Alzheimer's Disease
Since Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, it can be helpful to know the first symptoms of the condition. The Alzheimer's Association notes early signs of the disease, including these five examples, which reiterate the signs of dementia stated above:
- Difficulty with Language: Someone with Alzheimer's may stop right in the middle of a conversation and not know how to continue. They may forget the name of a household object or call it by the wrong word.
- Forgetfulness, Losing Things or Getting Lost: Misplacing things on occasion is normal but placing something in an unusual location is not. Someone living with Alzheimer's may also have difficulty retracing their steps or get lost in familiar places.
- Troubling Behavior: You may notice a loved one making poor judgment choices with their money or not keeping up with their personal hygiene. These are both warning signs.
- Changes in Personality: If you notice your loved one seems depressed or spot changes in mood, such as acting more anxious or fearful than usual, it may be an early symptom of Alzheimer's. Also, people with dementia sometimes withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed or avoid social engagements.
- Disorientation: Someone living with Alzheimer's may experience confusion about how they got to a place, feel disoriented or have trouble knowing what day it is.
What Should You Do If You Notice These Signs of Alzheimer's?
If you're concerned for yourself or a loved one, it's best to make an appointment with a primary care doctor, who can make a referral to a specialist that can diagnose Alzheimer's.
Caring for Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer's
Being a caregiver to someone with dementia or Alzheimer's can be overwhelming. Sometimes families seek out dementia care, also known as memory care, a process that may become stressful when you're not sure which community is best for your loved one. Please know that you have options for assisted living with memory care. Seeking out a community specializing in dementia and Alzheimer's care may help you feel more at ease.
Finding an Assisted Living Community for Alzheimer's
When looking for an assisted living community, you might reach out to friends and family members for referrals. Your doctor may also have recommendations.
What to Look for in an Assisted Living Community for Dementia
People living with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia need special care. Additionally, the care type depends on the stage of the disease. For example, Benchmark Senior Living communities offer six levels of Mind & Memory Care. Our Mind & Memory Care Plan is for residents whose care needs consist primarily of cueing and reminders. Levels four and five meet the needs of residents who need total care including significant physical assistance.
Benchmark Senior Living's Mind and Memory Care residents and their families appreciate that we customize each care plan to the individual—to help them find joy each day. Our Mind & Memory Care residents also have access to our senior living amenities, including award-winning dining, pampering opportunities and engaging activities.
We are proud to be a leader in award-winning programs for dementia and Alzheimer's. Learn more about Benchmark's memory care assisted living.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have dementia or Alzheimer's, keep an eye out for memory loss, confusion, withdrawal from activities or social engagements, mood changes and confusion. See a doctor as soon as possible. If you're ready to explore assisted living with memory care, please contact one of our communities to speak with a dedicated associate.