10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's and Dementia: What to Look For

November 14th, 2019 | For Family Members

As you prepare to celebrate the holidays this season, you may notice some changes in your parents or senior loved ones if you haven’t seen them in a while. They may seem more forgetful, depressed or confused.  Do they have Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia? Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which is both debilitating and life-changing. Is it time to start researching assisted living or memory care communities? Fortunately, there are warning signs your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia that can help you determine if it’s time to look at visiting a community, or at least visiting a doctor.


10 Early Indicators of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia in Seniors:


-Forgetfulness and Short-Term Memory Loss

The early effects of memory loss cause people to forget entire conversations from just moments before. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease typically affect short term-memory first (memories that took place just a few moments ago). One of the most telling signs of memory issues are when those suffering forget important dates, the ability to remember their family members or ask for the same information repeatedly.


-Increased Confusion or Increased Lack of Concentration

Confusion about times and places can be one of the first indicators of memory loss. Tasks can take much longer than usual, people may forget where they’re going or how they got there or even be unable to navigate to familiar places. This leads to forgetting to track time, seasons and even the passage of time (which leads to forgotten appointments).


-Items Show Up In Strange Places or Loved Ones Are Losing Things

We all lose things - but those suffering with the early stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease “lose” keys or other things in strange places (like the refrigerator). To compound the issue, those affected may lose items and forget how to retrace their steps. Situations can further escalate to paranoia or theft accusations against caregivers.


-Difficulty Doing Common Tasks

Anyone with memory loss or early signs of Dementia might not remember the coordination associated with cooking a favorite recipe, playing a familiar game, driving a vehicle or performing a hobby. Often, early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia are noticeable in depth perception, misjudged distances, and seeing colors- attributing for clumsiness, having accidents, falling or other serious health concerns.


-Speaking Problems and Other Language Issues

Issues with memory loss can also cause problems with processing and forming language. This can be apparent in conversations and writing. Your loved ones often compensate for this by using stand-in words or their own terms to avoid describing objects and difficult actions. Sometimes, those suffering will stop abruptly during sentences or when engaged in conversation.

-Loved Ones Having Problems with Abstract Thinking

Those suffering from memory loss sometimes have difficulty remembering numbers or doing math problems that are traditionally easy for them like simple change calculations, balancing checkbooks, or performing addition and subtraction.


-Lapses of Judgement / Issues Making Decisions

While making a bad judgement call or having a difficult time making decisions isn’t necessarily a “sign of Alzheimer’s” or a “sign of Dementia,” it could be one of the signs your senior parent or loved one might have Dementia. This could include your loved one falling for offers that are clearly scams, spending a reckless amount of money, or dressing inappropriately for weather conditions or following up on simple plans.


-Personality Changes, Mood Swings, Frustration, Fear and Anxiety  

Sometimes, those suffering with memory care needs have mood swings and show changes in personality. This can cause those suffering to get scared, act fearful, be depressed, become angry, overly anxious or even worried. This can even cause a calm, confident adult to become immediately tentative, shy, and confused especially when they’re outside of their comfort zone - like in a public area.


-Loss of Grooming Ability or Changes in Personal Hygiene

Declining attention to personal care (infrequent bathing, wearing the same clothes day in and out, not brushing teeth or hair) are often precursors to dementia. The same is true about cleaning the home - if a home’s cleanliness declines suddenly, it could be a sign of a memory issue.


-Loved Ones Withdrawal from Friends and Family

One of the biggest red flags is when seniors start withdrawing from social opportunities and activities that they enjoyed in the past. Legend Senior Living has found that seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disorder avoid being around people to avoid drawing attention to their memory loss, lapses in memory, or difficulty communicating because of memory loss.


These symptoms can seem pretty normal as we engage and interact with our loved ones however, they can also be very telling in understanding how memory loss such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease affect our loved ones.  If you notice these symptoms in your loved one, we encourage you to seek out additional care options and services that ensure your loved one is getting the care they need to live their best life.


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