Recognize the Signs

Recognize the Signs

Dementia is a collection of symptoms including memory loss, personality change, and impaired intellectual functions resulting from disease or trauma to the brain. These changes are not part of normal aging and are severe enough to impact daily living, independence, and relationships.

Many people have memory loss issues — this does not necessarily mean they have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. According to ALZ.org, while symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

According to Dr. Rebecca Amariglio with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Abnormal Aging includes signs such as:

  • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • Having difficulty remembering important details or recent events
  • Having difficulty following the plot of a television program or book because of memory
  • Memory changes that are worse than others of the same age

There are strategies to improve clarity and keep your brain functioning at its optimal level. Just as we use healthy eating and exercise to keep our bodies at tip-top shape, the same goes for our brains.

  • Exercise consistently
  • Eat a brain-healthy diet
  • Challenge your mind
  • Get regular and restful sleep
  • Minimize stress
  • Avoid smoking and limit drinking

Take an active approach if you suspect a love one may be suffering from dementia.

  • Report their symptoms to their doctor as soon as possible and schedule regular follow-up visits.
  • Keep a list of their symptoms and concerns, and ask other family members and friends for their observations. Write down specific information about the frequency, nature, and setting of their      memory, cognitive, or behavior concerns.
  • Take charge by learning as much about dementia as you can. Knowing what to expect will help your loved one plan, adjust, and live life as fully as possible.
Do Your Homework

Do Your Homework

Most of us wait until a crisis occurs before we start thinking about who will help keep a loved one remaining at home for as long as possible. But making on-the-spot, high-stakes decisions while your emotions are working overtime almost always results in poor, uninformed choices. Being prepared in the event of a health crisis can make everything run more smoothly for all members of the family.

If you’re looking for some form of  in-home care for an elderly loved one, your research has to go beyond doing a Google search and making a couple of calls. You’ll want to dig deep into the credentials, backgrounds, and consumer reviews. The experience and knowledge that the company holds should play a key role in your decision.

Some of the benefits that in-home care can provide seniors include the ability to stay as independent as possible, while providing the safety and security they need. They can maintain all the comforts of home while reaping the benefits of a part-time or full-time caregiver to assist them with day-to-day needs.

Do small things to prepare the home which will ultimately assist in allowing your loved one to remain home for as long as possible. Shannon Dauphin from Eldercarelink.com tells us to consider these suggestions that can make an enormous difference:

        • Install anti-scald devices in showers and faucets
        • Choose smoke detectors with strobe lights and vibrate features
        • Select carbon monoxide detectors with a high sensitivity rating
        • Install “grab bars” in the shower and bath
        • Consider motion sensors and other security features that alert to a lack of motion

Lastly, to ensure that older family members’ wishes are acted on, homecare.com suggests they prepare and sign a living will and durable power of attorney, make a list of physicians and identify the hospital of choice, as well as run through “if” scenarios to help with decision making.

So, don’t get caught in crisis. Do the homework and help make an already stressful situation a lot less stressful by completing these three tasks:

        1. Research in-home options
        2. Prepare the home
        3. Make sure a living will and durable power of attorney paperwork are complete