Dementia is a common yet discouraging set of symptoms that affect a person’s memory, judgment, and behavior.
Typically impacting individuals later in life, this neurodegenerative condition is not a "normal" part of aging, nor is it limited to just elderly people. However, it is quite common: an estimated 47.5 million people suffer from dementia worldwide, with one new case diagnosed every four seconds.
If you’re concerned about your aging loved one’s mental condition, here are some signs that can help you identify dementia in seniors, and how to assist them through this difficult diagnosis.
How to identify dementia in seniors
Many seniors struggle with memory loss, but less than 1% of people with age-related memory loss develop dementia. That’s why noticing the signs of dementia in relation to age is crucial to slowing its progression and finding the proper resources to help your loved one maintain their independence.
Currently, there is no cure for dementia. However, there are ways to delay or lessen its effects. In this case, the sooner you detect dementia in a senior adult, the better their prognosis will be. But once the dementia progresses, there’s no way to reverse the damage it’s done.
What are symptoms of dementia?
Dementia also goes far beyond the memory. In fact, it affects the way a person thinks, speaks, socializes, and partakes in everyday activities. Here are some symptoms of dementia in seniors:
● Memory loss
● Judgment lapse
● Trouble expressing emotions
● Personality changes
● Speech issues
● Trouble socializing
● Difficulty with everyday tasks
Treating dementia in seniors
If you believe your loved one is battling dementia, here are six ways to treat this condition in seniors and make their lives easier.
1. Visit a doctor for the right diagnosis.
Dementia refers to a broad range of symptoms, and there are many different types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia. By visiting a doctor, you can get the exact diagnosis and proper treatment.
2. Treat comorbid conditions.
Sometimes, other conditions can play a part in the development of dementia. For example, Huntington’s disease, TBIs, and Parkinson’s disease are all linked to dementia. If you treat those comorbid conditions, you might be able to slow its progression and yield better results.
3. Keep their mind active.
The brain is a muscle; it needs exercise just like the body! Having your loved one engage in mentally stimulating activities, like reading, puzzles, word games, etc. will help keep them sharp. You can even participate in these exercises with them to fulfill their social needs as well.
4. Make sure they get enough vitamins and nutrients.
Certain vitamins, especially vitamin D, can impact the memory. In fact, research suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the vitamins B-complex and C are known to be helpful. By ensuring your loved one is taking their vitamins and supplements, eating the right foods, and getting enough sun, you’re decreasing their chances of developing dementia or, at the very least, slowing its progression.
5. Encourage them to exercise and eat healthy.
While this often goes without saying, eating whole foods and exercising regularly can only make matters better. That’s why encouraging activity and food that acts as fuel for the brain and body is so crucial. Whether you educate them on good food choices or join them for a walk at the end of the day, simple acts like this can keep them both physically and mentally healthy.
6. Consider a memory care facility to give them the care they need.
If you’re unable to provide the level of care your aging loved one requires for their increasingly complex condition, a memory care facility may be the best choice for your family. These senior living communities specialize in caring for conditions like dementia, so you can have peace of mind knowing that their needs are being met by caring, professional, experienced staff members.
Want to learn more about finding a senior living community for a loved one with dementia? Welcome Home Senior Services & Placement Co. can help. Contact us today to speak with our senior placement specialists, who can connect you with any of the hundreds of Florida communities we represent.