One of the most difficult things to ever have to do is to discuss with your loved one the possibility that they may have dementia. First of all you should know the warning signs of Alzheimer’s dementia that alert you when it is time to sit down and talk about dementia with your loved one. The following warning signs are from the Alzheimer’s Association and each one also gives examples of what is a normal sign of aging.
Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Dementia
Warning signs of Alzheimer’s dementia are:
Memory Loss that Disrupts Daily Life
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting things they just learnt and asking the same question over and over. Also, forgetting important appointments. However, if they sometimes temporarily forget names or appointments, but remember them later this is more of a typical age-related change. Sometimes forgetting things temporarily is a normal sign of aging, especially if someone is under stress.
Challenges in Planning or Solving Problems
Some people may show changes in their ability to make a plan and follow through with it. They may also have difficulty working with numbers. They may find it hard to follow a familiar recipe or to keep track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. However, if someone occasionally makes errors when balancing a checkbook this is more normal for aging.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks at Home, at Work or at Leisure
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar place, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game. On the other hand, needing help occasionally to record a TV show or to use a microwave are more just from normal aging changes.
Confusion with Time or Place
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. However, if they get confused about the day of the week but manage to figure it out later this is more of a typical sign of aging and not dementia.
Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving. Of course, an appointment with an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) is necessary to rule out serious vision problems like age related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts. Also, keep in mind that your loved one may have both age-related vision problems as well as dementia.
New Problems with Words in Speaking or Writing
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining in a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name. However, sometimes having trouble finding the right word to use is more of an age-related change and not dementia.
Misplacing Things and Losing The Ability to Retrace Steps
A person 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. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. However, occasionally misplacing things and being able to retrace steps to find them is more from normal aging and not Alzheimer’s.
Decreased or Poor Judgment
People with Alzheimer’s dementia may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, paying large amounts for items they cannot really afford. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean. However, making a bad decision once in a while is more of a typical sign of aging and not dementia.
Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities
A person with Alzheimer’s dementia may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They also may avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced. However, sometimes feeling tired of work, family and social obligations is normal for aging.
Changes in Mood and Personality
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s dementia can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. However, having a set way of doing things and becoming upset when a routine is disrupted is not a sign of dementia.
Your Loved one has Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Dementia, but you Still Cannot Discuss it with them
Your loved one has all the warning signs of Alzheimer’s dementia and you are at a loss how to begin discussing this with him/her. The Alzheimer’s Association carried out a survey in May, 2018 that showed that most Americans do not even want to begin such a conversation with a loved one for the following reasons:
- The majority 76% were afraid that initiating such a conversation would hurt the feelings of their loved one and said that there was no way they could ever start such a discussion.
- The second largest group 69% were afraid that beginning such a discussion could ruin their relationship.
- Another group 38% said they would only discuss dementia with their loved one if the condition got worse. Obviously, they were hoping that the condition of their loved one would not deteriorate and thus they could avoid such an unpleasant conversation.
- The last group 29% said they would never talk to their loved one about dementia in spite of their concerns.
Tips to Approach a Loved One Regarding Possibility of Dementia
In response to the results of this survey, the Alzheimer’s Association has a list of tips to help family members find the right way to talk to their loved one about their concerns:
- Have the conversation as soon and as early as possible.
- Decide who would be the best one to start this conversation.
- Rehearse ahead of time how to start this conversation.
- Offer love and support
- Expect to find gaps on self-awareness
- Understand that the conversation may not go the way it was planned
Memory Impaired Care
If the time comes to look for a long-term skilled nursing care solution for your loved one, then you should choose a care facility that has a memory impaired care unit like the Royal suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in scenic Galloway township, New Jersey. Royal suites offers unique treatments for people with advanced Alzheimer’s dementia like a Snoezelen room. To read more about memory impaired care at Royal Suites see our blog post from May 29, 2018.
If your loved one is showing the 10 signs that may be Alzheimer’s dementia, then it may be time to sit down and talk about your concerns and together make care plans for the future.