One in ten people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s or another form of memory loss. That’s nearly six million Americans. Though there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are ways to make the disease more manageable. It often starts with early recognition – if not by the senior experiencing cognitive changes, then by adult children or other family members.
What is memory loss?
Let’s start with a couple of terms.
Dementia isn’t a specific disease. Rather it’s a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions, which interferes with everyday activities. Source: cdc.gov
Alzheimer’s, sometimes called Alzheimer’s disease, is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60%–80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s affects memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Source: Alz.org
What are the signs of memory loss?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably noticed changes in your parent’s behavior. In order to ease the transition toward memory support, learn to recognize these 10 early signs of memory loss:
- Increased forgetfulness. Does your parent forget important dates or events or repeat the same questions? Do they rely on handwritten notes or family members for things they used to handle on their own?
- Difficulty with solving problems. Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Do your parents have trouble driving to a familiar location? Are they still able to organize a grocery list or remember the rules of a favorite game?
- Confusion with time or place. Do your parents lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time? Do they ever forget where they are or how they got there?
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance, trouble reading, or discerning colors.
- New problems finding the right word to use. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue, or they may repeat themselves.
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person living with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. They may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses.
- Decreased or poor judgment. Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
- Withdrawal social activities. The difficulty in carrying on a conversation may result in a withdrawal from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.
- Changes in mood and personality. People with memory loss become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, with friends, or when out of their comfort zone.
Having “The Conversation.”
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, early detection may lead to more effective treatment. It can be difficult to talk about, but it’s important.
Using the 10 Early Signs listed above, ask questions that help your parents realize they need memory support.
- Have you taken your medicine today?
- Do you remember what you had for breakfast this morning? What about for dinner last night?
- Do you still enjoy the daily crossword puzzle, knitting, or card game?
- Can you remember my birthday?
Having the conversation will help your loved one transition to memory care in whatever form you decide on.
Lead with empathy and patience. People with dementia can become agitated when challenged. But keeping your loved one’s best interests in mind, you’ll find a hopeful path for this journey.
What can you do to help your parents?
Speak with a doctor immediately. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can help slow it. Your parent’s physician may prescribe medicine or other therapies that prolong cognitive function.
Make a plan for care. Your parents will soon need professional care. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. While family caregiving is an option in the earliest stages, it will soon become a demanding full-time job. As symptoms become severe, it’s usually more than one person can handle successfully.
Explore memory care communities in your area. Memory care communities provide specialized care to seniors with dementia in a secure setting. Trained staff utilize programming and therapies to help residents engage cognitively and socially while enhancing their quality of life.
Help is available now at The Terraces.
The Terraces at Bonita Springs is a Life Plan Community that offers long-term care, including memory support services. We care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in an intimate and uplifting atmosphere. Adult children can rest assured that their family members will be cared for and attended to 24/7. Working closely with each individual and their family, our team engages residents in ways that resonate with them personally.
We’re more than caregivers; we’re care partners.
In addition to providing a life-enriching experience to residents, we help family members cope with the challenges of dementia. Our care teams are always available to consult with family members to learn more about their loved one’s care plan. Additionally, family members are always welcome to visit our senior living community.
What your loved one can expect:
Our memory support community includes an array of specialized amenities and activities for memory care residents:
- Secure environment
- 24-hour certified nurse’s aide assistance
- Dedicated licensed nurses, specially trained to care for those with memory loss
- Personalized care plans designed to meet unique needs and preferences
- Interactive and socially stimulating programming
- Spacious private suites with en suite
- All utilities provided, including cable
- Individual memory boxes to help residents locate their residence independently
- Spacious activity and common areas designed for social engagement
- Protected sensory garden for walking and family visits
How can we serve your family?
The Terraces at Bonita Springs is a boutique Life Plan Community near Naples, Florida. We offer independent living and all levels of care, including assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation.
To help your parents transition to memory support, come for a visit and tour. We’ll be happy to show you around our family-friendly, resident-centric community.