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Recognizing the Early Signs of Dementia

By Lesa Hardiman, 11:38 pm on

Many people think dementia is a specific disease, but it’s actually just a related set of symptoms. The symptoms of dementia can be caused by one of several possible conditions. In older adults, the most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease. To promote the health and safety of your aging parent or loved one, it is important to learn about common senior conditions such as dementia, so you can identify symptoms as soon as possible.

What are the first symptoms?

Grand Rapids dementia care specialists report that early dementia appears as changes in a person’s ability to communicate, remember, or do things that require thinking. Sometimes, these changes are very subtle. Here are a few common examples of behaviors that could potentially indicate dementia:

  • Short-term memory loss, such as forgetting what just happened and what should happen next in a social setting
  • Inability to follow basic storylines or plots on television
  • Inability to keep up with the ordinary flow of conversations
  • Decline of basic mathematical skills, such as simple addition and subtraction

How will I know if it’s dementia?

Everyone forgets sometimes. All of us make mental errors, and mess up our use of language. These are common behaviors that don’t necessarily indicate dementia. Many changes in mental ability are harmless, so how do you know if you’re observing ordinary cognitive issues or serious ones? Try to identify changes or behaviors that are repeated again and again, and seem odd or out-of-character. If you provide home care in Grand Rapids for an aging parent or loved one, these behaviors may be easier to observe. If you are unable to check-in on your loved one regularly, calling more often or having friends and neighbors look out for unusual behaviors can be helpful in determining if dementia may be an issue.

What do I do?

What if you’re not sure? Ultimately, you don’t have to know for sure; that’s the doctor’s job. Only a qualified physician can provide a precise diagnosis. If you think an aging parent or loved one is experiencing the early stages of dementia, don’t panic — but don’t ignore the problem, either. Arrange for a medical exam as soon as possible. A doctor will be able to assess your loved one’s symptoms and possible causes, and can then recommend a course of action to halt or slow the development of the underlying disease, if there is one.

If your aging parent or loved one is diagnosed with dementia, know that you do not have to embark on this journey alone. There are numerous resources including Grand Rapids live-in care agencies, support groups, and online forums, which can provide your loved one and your family with the support you need during this difficult time. For more information about in-home dementia care for seniors in Grand Rapids, contact a Home Care Assistance Care Manager at 616-243-0835 today.