When visiting elderly relatives that you don’t see often, you may notice changes in their appearance, demeanor, and personality. You may feel concerned if you notice changes in their ability to take care of themselves independently or remember important things about day-to-day life. Here are a few warning signs to watch for that may be cause for further investigation:
- Difficulty with familiar tasks like driving to the grocery store or setting the table
- Deterioration of problem solving skills as they apply to daily living
- Struggling to remember important dates, like common holidays
- Using the wrong word for something familiar (this is different from struggling to find the right word, which is a normal occurrence with healthy people)
- Exhibiting signs of fearfulness or irrational thinking
- Poor housekeeping or hygiene
- Showing poor judgement; giving money away or making large purchases
Younger-onset or Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
Early onset Alzheimer’s disease affects as many as 200,000 people in the United States and is difficult to diagnose. People experiencing troubling memory problems under the age of 65 should contact the Alzheimer’s Association for information and a referral to a doctor that can provide testing. About 5 percent of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease have the younger-onset type.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease
A complete medical assessment, performed by a physician with training in diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, is the only way to be sure that a person has this particular condition. It isn’t difficult to determine if a person is suffering from dementia, but pinpointing a cause can be a challenging process. A full physical and neurological exam are necessary, including brain imaging and blood tests.
Certain vitamin deficiencies, drug interactions, alcohol use and abuse, depression, thyroid problems, and other physical ailments are all common causes of dementia symptoms. Ruling out other causes is crucial for proper treatment.
Family and friends are important
People struggling with dementia symptoms are not likely to seek diagnosis and treatment on their own. It is important for family, friends, and loved ones to encourage a visit to the doctor and consistent follow-up after a diagnosis.
Signs and symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may seem more obvious to people who do not have daily contact with the person. While it may be a sensitive topic, it’s important to voice concerns early. For support and information, contact the Alzheimer’s Association chapter for your geographical area.
Remaining at home may help ease dementia symptoms
Aging in place without sacrificing quality of life is a wonderful goal. Remaining in comfortable surroundings with all of the things that feel and look familiar is an important part of managing dementia symptoms.
People who have trouble taking care of simple day-to-day tasks may benefit greatly from in-home assistance, or home care. In-home care also offers the family caregivers much-needed support.
For more information about how we can help dementia patients, those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and their families live comfortably and safely in their own home, please contact us.