November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time for all of us to learn, share, and show support for the millions of Americans living with the disease and those who care for them. When Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month was first recognized in 1983, there were less than two million Americans living with the disease. Today, that number has increased to over six million nationally, with over 11 million Americans providing unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
Although there’s not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, learning the warning signs and symptoms can lead to an early diagnosis, providing a better chance of benefiting from treatment and memory care therapies.
Know the 10 Warning Signs
The Alzheimer’s Association has identified 10 early warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias:
#1: Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia is forgetting recently learned information or important dates or events. People in the early stages of the disease may ask the same questions over and over, repeat stories, or rely on family members to recall things they used to manage on their own.
#2: Challenges in planning or solving problems. Someone with dementia may experience changes in their ability to plan or work with numbers. Everyday activities like following directions or keeping track of monthly bills may become more difficult than before.
#3: Difficulty completing familiar tasks. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia often find it hard to complete simple tasks they used to do on their own every day. It may take longer for them to prepare meals, get ready in the morning, or drive to a familiar location.
#4: Confusion with time or place. We’ve all lost track of time before, but someone with dementia may experience confusion with the month, season, or year. This may cause them to forget where they are and how they got there, which can lead to confusion, disorientation, and wandering.
#5: Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Along with memory loss, vision problems can be a common sign of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Someone living with the disease may have trouble balancing, reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast, which can lead to issues with driving.
#6: New problems with words in speaking or writing. Living with Alzheimer’s or dementia can make it difficult for people to follow or join in a conversation. In the early stages, they may struggle with vocabulary, often forgetting common words and substituting with similar (but not correct) words.
#7: Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia to lose objects in unusual places (like leaving the keys in the freezer). In later stages of the disease, they may accuse others of “stealing” from them.
#8: Changes in judgment or decision-making. Someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may be unable to make appropriate or safe decisions. Examples may include poor judgment when dealing with money or driving, acting inappropriately with strangers, or paying less attention to the way they dress or present themselves.
#9: Withdrawal from work or social activities. As a result of communication and memory challenges, a person with dementia may withdraw from work obligations, social interactions, or hobbies and activities they used to enjoy.
#10: Changes in mood and personality. Someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may experience shifts in their normal mood and personality. They may become restless, confused, depressed, anxious, and easily agitated. Changes in their everyday routine, including their sleep patterns, can exacerbate these symptoms.
If you recognize any of these signs in a loved one, don’t ignore them. Help them make an appointment with their doctor to bring up your concerns.
The benefits of early intervention
It’s natural to feel scared, upset, and uncertain when someone you love is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. But the sooner they receive a proper diagnosis, the sooner your family can begin exploring memory care treatments, interventions, and therapies that may provide relief of their symptoms and help them maintain a level of independence for a longer period of time.
Assisted Living Memory Care, like Pavilion at Bethany Village, can be highly beneficial for those in the early to middle stages of their disease, providing therapies and the daily assistance and support needed to continue the activities and aspects of life that are most important to them. Several different types of innovative interventions and therapies are offered in Assisted Living Memory Care, including:
Music therapy, which uses familiar music to help stimulate memories and boost mood.
Art therapy, including guided painting, drawing, crafting, and other artistic pursuits, encourages self-expression, communication, and reminiscence.
Movement-based activities such as walking, line dancing, balloon toss, chair yoga, and other light exercises help keep residents healthy and active.
Conversation-based activities, which help to ease confusion about time and place and stimulate meaningful communication with caregivers and fellow residents.
Planning ahead for memory care
Access to the right support and services early on can make all the difference in helping both caregivers and those living with the disease uphold a high quality of life now and into the future.
If your loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s not too early to begin researching, discussing, and touring senior living memory care options, such as Pavilion Assisted Living Memory Care at Bethany Village.
Pavilion is a cozy and intimate family-style living environment where memory care residents are free to explore and socialize in comfort and safety. All medical services are offered within Pavilion, where our memory care includes a dementia-trained nursing staff on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because Pavilion is a part of Bethany Village’s continuum of care, including skilled nursing memory care, you can rest assured knowing that your loved one will be surrounded by Faithful Caring throughout every stage of their disease.
Are you ready to learn more about the benefits of memory care at Bethany Village? Contact us today to set up a private tour of our community or schedule a temporary respite care stay, allowing your loved one to experience the personal care and support, amenities, and activities offered at Pavilion before becoming a resident.