The holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends, share in special traditions, enjoy your favorite foods and create new memories. Visits with older relatives can also be helpful in spotting health issues, especially if you don’t see each other often.
In between the laughter and sips of eggnog, take some time to look for the early signs of dementia. Catching Alzheimer’s disease or other memory issues early gives you, your loved one and your family more time to plan for the future. Of course, more time to plan means more options, including supportive services offered by senior living communities like Beatitudes Campus.
During your visit, be sure to watch for these and other early signs of dementia. Don’t panic if you see something concerning. Some signs may be attributed to something else, such as side effects from a medication, vitamin deficiency, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, dehydration, injury due to a fall or other medical conditions. Unlike dementia, these can generally be reversed. If your loved one exhibits one or more of these early warning signs, a thorough exam by a doctor will help rule out another underlying cause.
6 Early Signs of Dementia
- Difficulty with complex tasks such as following a recipe, balancing a checkbook, playing a game or completing a puzzle. It takes a fair amount of cognitive brain power to process and properly implement a list of sequential actions, track and pay bills and adapt to changing situations as in gameplay. If your loved one isn’t able to engage in activities they once did easily, please bring this to the attention of a doctor.
- Difficulty following conversations or storylines in movies and TV shows. Holding a conversation with friends and neighbors challenges the brain in numerous ways — memory, comprehension, reasoning, empathy and more. The same holds true for following plots in movies and TV shows. If an extrovert is now avoiding conversations or a long-time movie buff is only watching 24-hour cable news, they may be experiencing some cognitive issues, especially when paired with other signs.
- Loss of smell and taste. Is your loved one not eating as much or not enjoying holiday meals as they typically would? Allergies, smoking and COVID-19 can lead to a loss of smell and taste. However, some studies show it could be an early indication of problems in the part of the brain that processes these senses.
- Vision changes. Alzheimer’s disease can cause trouble with spatial relationships, depth perception and peripheral vision, even distinguishing between colors. Watch to see if your loved one bumps into furniture often, sets objects on the edge of tables and counters, gets into minor scrapes while driving or has trouble seeing the color of their pills. A standard eye test can detect structural changes in the retina and optic nerve, which may help identify seniors at risk for dementia.
- Repeatedly putting objects in strange places. From time to time, everyone misplaces something or absentmindedly puts an object in a weird place like socks in the refrigerator instead of the washer. If it seems to happen a lot, seek a doctor’s evaluation.
- Paranoia and unfounded accusations. As the underlying cause of dementia, whether from a disease or other medical condition, damages the brain, it can affect how a person perceives reality. It often leads to paranoia, a feeling of danger and mistrust in family and friends. Please don’t take this personally. Your loved one can’t help how they feel. Like other early warning signs of Alzheimer’s, it could be caused by an infection, medication, sleep deprivation, electrolyte imbalance or another medical condition. Make an appointment for your loved one to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Experts caution family members not to consider these symptoms in isolation but within the context of the person’s overall health. Even healthy people may exhibit mild symptoms but never develop dementia. Still, early warning signs are a signal to reach out for a doctor’s exam.
If you’re wondering if it’s the right time to seek help for your loved one, we invite you to learn more with our quick assessment tool. After answering a few questions, you’ll get personalized results in just four minutes.
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Trusted Memory Support in Phoenix
Should you or someone you love need memory support, Beatitudes Campus specializes in appropriate extended-care living options for older adults. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, our retirement community offers a full continuum of choices, including independent living, assisted living, rehabilitation therapies, home care, skilled nursing care and memory care. Our award-winning and nationally recognized Comfort Matters® program ensures residents with dementia enjoy the flexibility, freedom and respect to pursue their personal interests in a safe, nurturing setting.
To learn more about memory support at Beatitudes Campus, call 602.833.1358 or contact us online [https://beatitudescampus.org/contact-us]. We’re here to help.