Many older adults worry about dementia. The aging process normally includes some forgetfulness, but dementia is quite different.
reduced ability to multitask. The aging brain simply needs to slow down and do one thing at a time. It may take longer to do things, but they do get done.
slower recall. An older adult might not remember a word or event right away, but will eventually. It might take a few minutes, or hours, but the memory will surface.
Dementia is more disorienting
It involves the inability to make new memories. It’s like a blank slate. The memory just isn’t there. The event didn’t stick. Dementia also involves losing the ability to do even common activities, such as use a phone or make change. Tasks that require multiple steps will become increasingly difficult.
The early stage of dementia can be one of confusion, fear, and depression. Even if there is no formal diagnosis, the person with the memory issue often senses that something is wrong. And he or she may still have enough self-awareness to understand the consequences of a disease such as Alzheimer’s. It’s equally likely that the person may not recognize their own decline. They just don’t recall recent events. It’s nothing they are doing on purpose. It’s not like they can “try harder.” They can’t. The memories simply don’t form.
In the early stages, you may not even know there is a problem. Your family member may just seem a little less “with it.” People are very adept at compensating. And if your relative is married, a spouse may naturally take up the slack. But if you suspect something is not right, get a full medical assessment just to be sure.
Early diagnosis is important. Medications are available that can slow the progression of the symptoms. And it may be that your loved one’s confusion is caused by something such as depression, which can be cured. The sooner your family member gets tested, the sooner treatment can begin.
Deciding who to tell and when. Many people feel ashamed of a diagnosis of dementia. And some people or situations may become uncomfortable once a diagnosis is disclosed. This is a very personal decision.
Concern about driving. Driving requires thinking and good spatial skills. Dementia impairs both of these. The person with dementia is not likely to even recognize they have a problem. Everyone will eventually need to retire from driving. Knowing exactly when to stop is complicated. Read our article about driving safely and talk with the doctor.
Depression is big. Depression can cause many of the same symptoms as dementia. And, a person with memory problems can get very frustrated and feel very blue. Especially after a formal diagnosis, it is not uncommon for the patient to become depressed. The good news is that depression can be treated. Staying on top of the depression can at least lessen the number of factors contributing to your relative’s confusion or distress.
Join a support group. People in the early stages of dementia have special problems and needs. So do their family members. Gathering with others can provide a tremendous amount of comfort for you both. You are also likely to learn valuable tips for handling common situations.
Important legal and financial decisions. This is the time to make decisions about financial and medical matters. Now, when your loved one is still able to assess options, he or she should complete an advance directive. Your relative should also arrange for a will or living trust. He or she should assign a person to handle finances when managing money becomes too difficult. See our article about proxy decision makers in Your Changing Role.
I have known Becky Auyer and Inspire Care for over 10 years. I have recommended her to many friends and families.About 7 years ago, I hired her to help me with my parents. (I recall thinking I was a super hero, and I could do this well all by myself!)Early on, she helped me to navigate both of my parents getting off the road. That was a tremendous hurdle for our family and much needed for everyones safety.She helped us in the house with safety measures, meds, doctor appointments and check ins when I was away on travel.In 2017, my parents moved to senior apartment living. She helped us with that process, as well as helping us with mobility issues that both parents now had.Over the last 5 years, with COVID, my mother suffering numerous falls, rehab, and several hospitalization, Becky and her staff were always a phone call away. Becky, Gwen, Sharon, Deborah and Cheryl, all pitched in with daily treatments, showers, physical therapy, and sometimes taking turns at the hospital. This gave me so much comfort knowing they could help me in so many ways.During the 1st 6 months of 2022, both of my parents died at home with hospice, family, and the Inspire Care team helping us every step of the way.In a lot of ways, these last 12 years was the toughest job I ever had. I don't regret it, but I know I couldn't have done as well as I did without Inspire Care by my side until the end.
Inspire Care of CNY cared for both of my aging parents in the final stages of their lives. Becky and her team were FANTASTIC. We faced many challenges--moving my parents out of their house and into a retirement community, and then confronting various issues as their health failed. I don't know how we would have survived that phase of life without their patient, kind, and knowledgeable support. The support was for my parents, but also for us, their adult children. I wish I could give more than five stars!