Alzheimer’s and dementia affect many older people’s memory or thinking skills. The conditions can be extremely distressing for family members having to witness the deterioration of a loved one’s mental health first-hand. As relatives get older, some people become concerned that their behavior indicates a deeper problem although not everyone knows what to do if that turns out to be the case.
Although the most obvious thing to do is to call a doctor to discuss a dementia care plan although this is unwise until you have collected enough evidence of a potential problem. When it comes time to consult with a physician, it is always better to be armed with as much information on what you’ve observed in your older relative’s behavior.
Research shows that there are eight particular behaviors that indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s or dementia which are noticeable in people likely to be developing either one of the conditions.
1. Signs of Poor Judgment
Behaviors or decisions that imply the person is making bad choices such as unusual spending patterns or failing to notice safety issues others have concerns about. Many people struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s can become a threat to their own safety as a result of the illness, such as driving erratically.
2. Reduced Interest in Leisure Activities
When people get older, they naturally have reduced energy levels. However, they are still likely to be just as interested and involved in their favorite activities and hobbies as always. If there’s no physical health issue preventing the person from enjoying these past times, there may be a deeper reason why they suddenly lose interest in them.
3. Repeating Oneself
Many people start to repeat themselves when they get older although sometimes, this behavior can become extreme which is a common sign of a deeper issue. However, it is important to know the distinction between someone who is repeating themselves because of their age and a person with developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
4. Difficulty Learning a New Skill
Technology advances at a rapid pace and some older people can struggle with the simplest kitchen appliance or gadget. If there’s a sudden decline in an older person’s ability to fathom new things, this could indicate developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
5. Forgetting the Year or Month
Many people with Alzheimer’s or dementia have no problem remembering facts from when they were children, but they often struggle with short-term memory. Losing track of the day of the week isn’t uncommon for people who no longer work but if an older person forgets what year or month they’re in, this could mask a growing problem.
6. Difficulty Managing Money and Finances
Even if an older person has always managed their own finances successfully their whole life, when things slide they may be struggling. Having problems paying bills on time or being unable to balance the checkbook could be a sign there’s something wrong.
7. Problems with Appointments and Commitments
People who are developing dementia or Alzheimer’s sometimes lose track of scheduled appointments or plans. They may start to forget birthdays or other important dates in their lifetime including their wedding anniversary. When older people suffer from either of these mental health conditions, they often become disconnected from the way life was before they got ill.
8. Daily Struggles with Memory or Thinking
Older adults often take longer to remember things than younger people. This is because many of the brain’s functions slow down as people get older. However, if you’re elderly relative often seems confused about events and becomes more confused the more they think about them, they may have developed Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Loved Ones of Sufferers
It can be very distressing to have an older person develop an illness as concerning as Alzheimer’s or dementia, particularly if it’s a parent. Sufferers often become so different to the person they once were that many loved ones feel a sense of loss long before they pass away. Although recognizing the signs may not prevent the illnesses from developing further, there have been a few advances in the treatment of both Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As with all other mental or physical health conditions, it is important to note the regularity of symptoms and whether the above-mentioned patterns of behavior are becoming more acute. Essentially, both dementia and Alzheimer’s are progressive illnesses that develop over time, albeit a relatively short period to the person’s age. In essence, dementia and Alzheimer’s are both natural forms of brain decay which happens as a person gets older. In the same way that babies develop very quickly at the start of their lives, at the other end of the spectrum late-onset illnesses can also result in rapid deterioration.
Another common symptom of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s is that people respond to what is said to them in unusual ways. Some may develop a habit of laughing in response to all statements, whether they are funny or not. This can be annoying for those close to them, particularly as the conditions become more serious although their behaviors are no longer consciously driven. Essentially, although the person looks exactly the same as the man or woman others know and love, they are likely to behave in very different ways than people are familiar with.
One thing to bear in mind is that people with Alzheimer’s or dementia are not “suffering” in the true sense of the word. They may not feel any physical pain or even any sense of loss over the past they no longer remember. Although it is natural for their loved ones to feel hurt that they are no longer remembered by their elderly relative, the sufferer is not likely to be aware of anyone’s suffering. In other words, they aren’t intentionally behaving the way they do out of a conscious effort to alienate themselves. Alzheimer’s and dementia are now very common illnesses that have really be borne out of our improved life-expectancy and in many ways they cause by the brain’s natural deterioration through aging.