It’s normal to become more forgetful with age. Your senior loved one may misplace their keys from time to time or have trouble recalling a phone number.
While it’s true that some age-related memory loss is expected, dementia is not a normal part of getting older.
When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. It affects one in eight older Americans according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is a degenerative illness, meaning symptoms worsen over time.
The onset of dementia may not be immediately obvious to adult children and caregivers. At first the warning signs of Alzheimer’s are easy to overlook or dismiss.
Every senior progresses through dementia differently, but there are concerning warning signs of Alzheimer’s caregivers should look for. Learning these red flags can help you know when your senior loved one needs help.
Symptoms of Dementia and Early Stage Alzheimer’s
Difficulty remembering information
Short-term memory loss is the most recognizable early sign of dementia. Seniors with early signs of Alzheimer’s are unable to recall information they have just learned, such as forgetting a person’s name right after meeting them. You may notice your loved one loses track of important dates. They may also begin asking you to repeat things over and over.
Losing and misplacing objects
Have you found your Mom’s keys in the fridge? Does your Dad accuse you of hiding his wallet? Misplacing personal belongings in odd places is a red flag for Alzheimer’s. Those in the early stages of the disease lose objects and have no idea how to retrace their steps to find them.
Getting lost or wandering
Your loved one may get lost easily. Confusion and disorientation are common. 60% of the nation’s 5 million Alzheimer’s patients wander, reports CNN. Seniors may have trouble driving, get into fender-benders, and struggle to navigate once-familiar routes.
Many seniors with early stage Alzheimer’s forget everyday words and vocabulary. They call objects by the wrong name, for instance saying “window” when referring to a door. Conversations become difficult. Seniors may avoid socializing to prevent embarrassment.
Trouble with finances
Poor judgment, especially when it comes to money matters, is an early symptom of dementia. Questionable financial decisions, such as getting involved in scams or buying items from telephone salespeople, are concerning. If your senior loved one struggles to pay bills or balance their checkbook, it may mean they are no longer able to safely live alone and care for themselves.
Alzheimer’s Caregiving: Getting Help
Facing the thought of Alzheimer’s is hard for caregivers and seniors alike. Denial is common.
Detection of early Alzheimer’s symptoms is the key to better treatment. It also allows you and your family to plan for the type of memory care that may be needed to ensure your senior loved one is safe and provided for.