June 18, 2018

Understanding & Dealing With Dementia

Memory loss can be difficult for families to cope with, but dementia symptoms do not have to take over your loved one’s life completely. By understanding key differences between regular memory loss and dementia, your loved one will be able to develop an effective plan for coping with his/her memory loss.

Spotting the Differences Between Dementia & Normal Memory Loss

Mild forgetfulness and a shorter attention span are common parts of memory loss in nearly all older adults. Most aging adults can maintain sharp thinking and healthy mental capabilities by simply exercising their brains and bodies regularly. However, while gradual physical and mental changes are inevitable as we age, rapid memory loss is not a normal part of the aging process. When memory loss seems severe or sudden, it is usually a sign of dementia.

Defined by the Alzheimer's Association, dementia is a general term that refers to a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with an individual’s day-to-day activities and relationships. Some common signs are:

  • Rapid memory loss
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Disoriented behavior
  • Loss of judgment skills
  • Impaired motor skills & balance
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Irrational sense of reason
  • Disregard for personal hygiene

Whether your loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, there are several effective steps you can take to help your loved one prevent progression and even slow symptoms.

I believe my loved one is showing symptoms of dementia. What do I do?

It can be frightening when your loved one appears to have dementia, and you may be skeptical to bring the symptoms up to him/her directly. While intervening may seem like an imposition, early diagnosis is vital to helping your loved one reverse, slow, and cope with their symptoms. If you suspect your loved one is experiencing dementia symptoms, these steps are a great way to help:

  1. Let your loved one know you are here to help. Your loved one may be defensive at first, but addressing dementia symptoms calmly and kindly will help you to have an open conversation together. Ultimately, your loved one will know you are trying to help them live a healthy and full life. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
  2. Make an appointment to receive a proper diagnosis. The earlier your loved one sees a doctor who can properly assess his/her symptoms, the quicker you can help slow the progression of dementia and plan your steps going forward.
  3. Conduct research. Once your loved one is properly diagnosed, educating yourself on the specific type of dementia he/she has will be a huge help in knowing what behaviors to look for, what changes to expect, and what you can do to help. Consult with the physician on regular follow-up visits as well.
  4. Make lifestyle adjustments. There are plenty of things your family member can do to slow the progression of his or her dementia, such as eating brain-healthy foods, socializing regularly, reducing stress, and exercising regularly.

When caring for your loved one becomes too much:

While taking the proper steps to adapt to dementia will ultimately help your family member lead a healthier life, the day-to-day care sometimes becomes overwhelming and stressful for family members to cope with. When you are unable to care for your loved one as much as he/she needs, Summerfield Senior Living is a here to provide safety, peace of mind, and comfort. Visit lifeatsummerfield.com to learn about life at our Memory Care Community.

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