Part of Alzheimer’s Awareness month should be about acknowledging the similarities and differences between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

Alzheimer’s and dementia both have similar symptoms, but mainly differ in the severity. Knowing the differences is important so that you can find the appropriate memory care near you. 

Spotting the Signs of Dementia

First, let’s talk about dementia. Dementia is not a disease. It refers to a collection of symptoms associated with conditions involving significant brain impairment. These symptoms include:

  • Thinking and memory damage
  • Significant cognitive and communication decline

Dementia can initially present itself during your senior years, usually when you reach 65 and above. Its symptoms can be vague and subtle at first and can be mistaken as a normal effect of aging (such as memory loss).

However, as dementia remains undiagnosed, it will progress to a moderate kind of disease that will eventually interfere with a senior’s day-to-day activities.

Recognizing the early signs of dementia in seniors is crucial. You should know the changes caused by aging and those that point to a more severe disorder.

Here are some of the telltale signs of dementia in seniors.

1. Short-Term Memory Loss

A typical adult can occasionally forget where they put their car keys or overlook a doctor’s appointment set weeks ago. These are normal circumstances.

However, when this “occasional” forgetfulness becomes frequent, that might already be a sign of dementia.

In fact, one of the earliest and most prominent signs of dementia is significant short-term memory loss.

This ranges from simple things like not remembering what they had for breakfast to something big like not knowing where they are or what they are doing in a specific place.

2. Communication and Language Issues

Dementia affects a senior’s ability to form coherent thoughts, making it hard for them to find the right words. They can also forget simple, everyday terms and expressions.

A senior with dementia will also struggle to organize the thoughts and ideas in their mind, affecting their speech and their writing abilities.

So, if you see your loved one often having trouble making a grocery list or struggling to finish a sentence, then it might be time to discuss it with their doctor.

3. Lack of Good Judgement

Poor judgment is another common symptom of early dementia, often preceding memory loss.

Seniors with dementia often struggle in assessing a specific situation or making a sound decision. This can manifest as a pattern of succeeding inappropriate actions or choices, such as:

  • Dressing inappropriately (having several jackets during the summer)
  • Financial decisions
  • Not recognizing obvious dangers (crossing a busy street)
  • Failure to attend to own hygiene
  • Trouble with driving

4. Struggling With Familiar Tasks

Another early sign of dementia is difficulty in doing or completing everyday tasks.

These are the ones that you usually do without thinking, like making a coffee, answering the phone, or even putting on your clothes.

5. Apathy

Apathy is the absence of interest or lack of motivation towards your own life. It means not caring for the physical, emotional, and social aspects of your well-being.

This can be manifested by withdrawing from social activities or losing interest in a hobby or favorite activity.

An elderly with dementia can become emotionally flat or non-existent to the things that once made them happy and excited.

Senior woman with daughter looking at papers on table happy and smiling

Spotting the Signs of Alzheimer’s

When physical and mental health deteriorates from dementia and progresses to the more severe Alzheimer’s stage, then it’s definitely time to consider memory care for your senior loved one. 

Memory care refers to a specialized senior care unit expert in supporting seniors with brain disorders. They aim to better the health condition of older adults by providing the best medical service and care possible.

Here are some of the most notable signs indicating that it is time to seek the best memory care facility’s help for your loved one’s benefit.

1. You Become Concerned for Their Safety

Seniors with dementia, even during its early stages, experience confusion and disorientation together with memory loss. This means that they might suddenly go out of the house without telling anyone, drive recklessly, or cross the street during a stoplight.

These things will keep happening as dementia progresses into Alzheimer’s disease, especially if your loved one lacks 24/7 supervision. This is a problem that can easily be remedied by memory care near you. 

2. Major Changes in Behavior

With late-stage dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, your loved one might show behavioral and psychological symptoms that can be too challenging to handle. This includes:

  • Aggressive behaviors like screaming and physical abuse
  • Agitation and increased anxiousness
  • Constant wandering and sleeping problems
  • Delusions and hallucinations

Even if you have your loved one under your care, these behavioral changes can be addressed more appropriately in a memory care facility. They have professional and experienced caregivers that know how to prevent tantrums from happening.

Additionally, they offer specific therapy sessions to help seniors gradually overcome and get past these psychological hurdles.

3. Inability to Maintain Good Physical and Social Wellbeing

Memory loss can significantly affect your loved one’s ability to do their day-to-day living activities like showering, hygiene care, and preparing meals. 

Moreover, seniors with Alzheimer’s will have difficulty keeping up with their doctor’s appointments and medication, which can drastically affect their health condition.

These unhealthy lifestyle activities can impact their overall physical health and result in:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Decreased immune function
  • Bruises, injuries, or fall accidents
  • Increasing frailty
  • Little to no social life
  • Decreased self-esteem and self-confidence

4. Experiencing Caregiver Burnout

Feeling physically and emotionally burned out does not make you a lousy family caregiver, but it is bound to happen sooner or later.

You are not born equipped to handle a challenging situation like this, making you vulnerable to caregiver or compassion fatigue in the long run. Caregiver fatigue or exhaustion is characterized by:

  • Harboring negative feelings about what you’re doing.
  • Decreased ability to give compassionate care.
  • Reduced ability to empathize and understand the condition of your loved one.

This happens when you give your all in caring for your senior loved one, neglecting your own needs and well-being. Don’t allow yourself to regress into depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.

Stop it from ever happening by letting the professionals in memory care near you take over your caregiving responsibilities.