Many older adults worry about dementia. The aging process normally includes some forgetfulness, but dementia is quite different.
reduced ability to multitask. The aging brain simply needs to slow down and do one thing at a time. It may take longer to do things, but they do get done.
slower recall. An older adult might not remember a word or event right away, but will eventually. It might take a few minutes, or hours, but the memory will surface.
Dementia is more disorienting
It involves the inability to make new memories. It’s like a blank slate. The memory just isn’t there. The event didn’t stick. Dementia also involves losing the ability to do even common activities, such as use a phone or make change. Tasks that require multiple steps will become increasingly difficult.
The early stage of dementia can be one of confusion, fear, and depression. Even if there is no formal diagnosis, the person with the memory issue often senses that something is wrong. And he or she may still have enough self-awareness to understand the consequences of a disease such as Alzheimer’s. It’s equally likely that the person may not recognize their own decline. They just don’t recall recent events. It’s nothing they are doing on purpose. It’s not like they can “try harder.” They can’t. The memories simply don’t form.
In the early stages, you may not even know there is a problem. Your family member may just seem a little less “with it.” People are very adept at compensating. And if your relative is married, a spouse may naturally take up the slack. But if you suspect something is not right, get a full medical assessment just to be sure.
Early diagnosis is important. Medications are available that can slow the progression of the symptoms. And it may be that your loved one’s confusion is caused by something such as depression, which can be cured. The sooner your family member gets tested, the sooner treatment can begin.
Deciding who to tell and when. Many people feel ashamed of a diagnosis of dementia. And some people or situations may become uncomfortable once a diagnosis is disclosed. This is a very personal decision.
Concern about driving. Driving requires thinking and good spatial skills. Dementia impairs both of these. The person with dementia is not likely to even recognize they have a problem. Everyone will eventually need to retire from driving. Knowing exactly when to stop is complicated. Read our article about driving safely and talk with the doctor.
Depression is big. Depression can cause many of the same symptoms as dementia. And, a person with memory problems can get very frustrated and feel very blue. Especially after a formal diagnosis, it is not uncommon for the patient to become depressed. The good news is that depression can be treated. Staying on top of the depression can at least lessen the number of factors contributing to your relative’s confusion or distress.
Join a support group. People in the early stages of dementia have special problems and needs. So do their family members. Gathering with others can provide a tremendous amount of comfort for you both. You are also likely to learn valuable tips for handling common situations.
Important legal and financial decisions. This is the time to make decisions about financial and medical matters. Now, when your loved one is still able to assess options, he or she should complete an advance directive. Your relative should also arrange for a will or living trust. He or she should assign a person to handle finances when managing money becomes too difficult. See our article about proxy decision makers in Your Changing Role.
Kimberly, Angelea and Dorothy are literal angels. Kimberly spent so much time talking with me about options for family member. Her team is kind, compassionate, patient, professional, responsive and dedicated to their clients. I cannot say enough about how amazing their whole team was to work with. I would absolutely recommend 1st Choice Home Care to anyone seeking in-home care for a loved one.
Kimberly and her staff are the best! the name says it all. They should be your 1st Choice! My mom was in Hospice in my home and the nurses from 1st Choice were EXCELLENT. They treated my mom like she was their mother. They not only took care of her but me too. They were so kind, caring, experienced, knowledgeable about Hospice and what she needed. Mom fell in love with them, as did I. I had 1st Choice 12 hrs a day/ 7 days a week.
When mom's memory began to impact her daily living, I engaged 1st Choice after evaluating several groups in the area. Janet (owner) knows how to care for our loved ones and to hire a team that make that happen. Mom and I partnered with her and her resources for 1.5 years while mom was still independent, helping with dressing, redirection and panic. We brought mom home during COVID and for the past two years these ladies have poured their care and wisdom into our lives as the ravages of Alzheimer's left her much more physically dependent. I am forever grateful for this group. No one is perfect (as people are not) but if you are willing to walk along side of them to get to the care your loved one needs, you won't regret the choice.
My experience with 1st Choice Home Care has been exceptional. It is so hard to watch a loved one, especially my mom, suffer with the ills of aging. As my energies grew less the professionals with 1st Home care eased my anxieties while providing loving and professional care to her. I would not have made it without the gifted staff and the love and care they showed. Thank you thank you thank you! Kim Berry
A great company to work for. Amazing leaders and mentors. They have taught me a lot and given me valuable life experiences I will forever cherish. Still growing and learning each day. Thank you all for everything!!