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Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month: What caregivers and loved ones should know

Explore the early warning signs of dementia and what caregivers and loved ones can do to support those with Alzheimer’s


In the United States, there are currently around 6.2 million people over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer’s. [1] While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, it’s important to be aware of the signs and stages of this form of dementia in order to get your loved ones the care and support they deserve. 

As a part of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, join us to understand the stages of Alzheimer’s and some of the common warning signs as well as what you, as a loved one or caregiver, can do for those in your life living with Alzheimer’s. 


10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s

Mild forgetfulness can be a normal sign of aging, but if your loved one is experiencing memory loss that is disrupting their daily life, it may indicate a more serious memory problem. It’s important to identify some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s in your loved one: 

  • #1: Memory loss. This is typically the most common sign of Alzheimer’s disease, especially early on. If your loved one is forgetting things they recently learned, important dates and events, or repeating themselves frequently, it may be a sign that they are experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s or another brain disorder. 
  • #2: Problems with challenges or problem solving. Seniors with Alzhiemer’s may find it difficult to create a plan and follow through with it. They may also find it difficult to work with problems or challenges, especially those that involve numbers. 
  • #3: Difficulty with daily tasks. It’s not uncommon for seniors to have some difficulty completing new tasks or working unfamiliar products. However, when your loved one is having trouble doing familiar tasks or activities, it may be a sign of a more serious problem. 
  • #4: Time and place confusion. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may often forget where they are and how they got there. They may also have trouble keeping track of the seasons, months, and days of the week. 
  • #5: Vision problems. Difficulty with images and spatial relationships is another common sign of Alzheimer’s. These changes in vision also often affect seniors’ reading ability and balance. 
  • #6: Problems with words or conversations. Seniors living with Alzheimer’s may find it difficult to join or follow a conversation. They’ll often forget words or names and may stop in the middle of their sentence because they forgot what they wanted to say.
  • #7: Misplacing items. Your senior may begin to lose items, and be unable to retrace their steps to find it. They may also place items in unfamiliar locations and may start to accuse others of stealing their things.
  • #8: Poor judgment. Alzheimer’s can cause seniors to have lapses in judgment and lead them to make poor decisions. Seniors with Alzheimer’s will typically have poor judgment when it comes to money, which is why they are frequently targeted by scammers. 
  • #9: Withdrawn from activities. Due to Alzheimer’s causing difficulty with speaking and conversations, seniors are more likely to withdraw themselves from social activities and gatherings. They may also have trouble remembering the rules to a game or activity. 
  • #10: Mood and personality changes. Alzheimer’s can cause seniors to get upset easier and faster. They may have changes in their mood, leading them to become angry, anxious, or scared without warning.


Read more: 

What are the benefits of art therapy for dementia care? 


The three stages of Alzheimer’s 

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s generally worsen over time as the disease progresses, but this rate is different for everyone. There are three main stages of Alzheimer’s, and someone can either be completely in one stage or experience overlap between the stages. 

The first stage is known as early-stage or mild Alzheimer’s. During this stage, your loved one may still be able to predominantly live independently, but you may notice mild memory loss or forgetfulness. Some of the common symptoms in this early stage include: 

  • Forgetting someone’s name. 
  • Difficulty finding the right words. 
  • Struggling to complete certain tasks at home.
  • Misplacing objects. 
  • Trouble organizing and planning [2]. 

The second stage is middle-stage or moderate Alzheimer’s. This is generally the longest-lasting stage and your loved one may remain in this stage for several years. During this stage, seniors’ need for care will increase, and they will lose their ability to complete many tasks alone. The symptoms in this stage will be more noticeable; some common symptoms include: 

  • Forgetting important information. 
  • Frequent and abrupt mood and personality changes.
  • Time and place confusion. 
  • Sleep pattern changes. 
  • Incontinence [2]. 

The third and final stage is known as late-stage or severe Alzheimer’s. In this stage, seniors will require a great amount of assistance and care, likely around-the-clock. Some common symptoms during this stage include: 

  • Changes in physical abilities, such as sitting, walking, and swallowing. 
  • Difficulty communicating clearly. 
  • Not recognizing places or people. 
  • Increased vulnerability to infections [2]. 


Tips for caregivers and loved ones

Once your senior has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they will require a different level of care as they progress through the stages of the disease. 

In the early-stage, caregivers and loved ones can mainly assist seniors with companionship and support. Seniors may also require help with tracking appointments and medication, managing finances, and transportation.

During middle-stage Alzheimer’s, seniors will require greater care and could benefit from a caregiver. Caregivers and loved ones should remain as patient and calm as possible when their senior is upset or frustrated. 

In late-stage Alzheimer’s, caregivers and loved ones will need to be able to provide consistent care as seniors will need help eating, bathing, dressing, and possibly walking. Communicating emotion becomes increasingly difficult at this stage, so loved ones and caregivers can try to read their favorite book or listen to their favorite music with them to help ease their frustrations.

In every stage of Alzheimer’s, there are things you can do for your loved one that will make tasks smoother for all parties involved:

  • Reduce frustrations as much as possible. Ensure that you are creating your senior’s schedule wisely by establishing a consistent daily routine. Keep in mind the time of day you are scheduling certain activities as some are easier when seniors are feeling most alert and refreshed. It’s also important to take your time when doing these tasks, expect that some things may take longer than they used to, and always set aside time for breaks during tasks.
  • Remain flexible and calm. As seniors progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s, their symptoms will worsen, and they will become more dependent. Be as flexible as possible and try adapting your routine and expectations as needed. It’s also important that caregivers and loved ones keep their seniors as involved in their own lives as possible by allowing them to do what they can with minimal help and making them aware of important decisions or events. 
  • Create a safe living environment. As your senior ages and their Alzheimer’s progresses, they may lose some mobility and have poor judgment or problem-solving skills. It’s important that obstacles, such as extension cords and rugs are cleared out to reduce their fall risk. 
  • Focus on individualized care. Every senior with Alzheimer’s will have a different experience, so it’s important to treat them as an individual by tailoring their care to their unique needs.


Read more:

4 tips for avoiding caregiver burnout for dementia care 


Looking for a caregiver for you or a loved one?

At Flourish in Place, we provide home care options for all needs and budgets and specialize in helping families in Central Florida find the appropriate level of care for seniors and people with disabilities. If you have loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, we lend a helping hand in providing the right level of care for them. 

Our team of well-trained caregivers make sure our patients are provided with a personalized care plan to ensure their needs and wants are well-provided. We also guarantee to regard your loved ones with warmth, respect, and dignity.

We offer a wide variety of specialized services including dementia care, cooking and serving nutritious meals, companionship and support, light housekeeping, and medication reminders.


To learn more, please request your Free Consultation today!


Sources:

1: CDC | The Truth About Aging and Dementia 

2: Alzheimer’s Association | Stages of Alzheimer’s

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