When a senior loved one becomes more forgetful, emotional, and withdrawn, families often worry about memory loss and memory diseases.
With age, the brain shrinks, which creates changes in cognitive functioning. These brain changes make senior moments quite common, and not much to worry about if a senior has no other symptoms.
If your loved one appears to be struggling with daily tasks, depression, anxiety, and mood swings, along with memory loss, reach out to their physician. When a senior has the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, the sooner they can be diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated, and possibly slow their symptoms.
The sooner you can research and help them transition into an assisted living community as well. It’s important that your senior loved one has the ability to comfortably age in place if their disease progresses quickly.
As a progressive disease, Alzheimer’s is incurable. Still, with the proper rehabilitation services, treatment, and medication, their symptoms can be managed, leading them to live a more comfortable and healthy life.
Stages of Alzheimer’s and their warning signs
Over time, a senior with Alzheimer’s will develop more severe symptoms. With the progression of their memory disease, they will need an increased amount of help, support, and attention.
Early Stage (mild)
Alzheimer’s will likely go unnoticed by a stranger in the earliest stage of its disease. The symptoms will be minor, and most seniors will still be able to complete daily tasks, live alone, and function normally.
However, caregivers and family members may notice the following symptoms of their loved one struggling:
- Remembering names
- Coming up with the right words
- Recalling something they just read
- Remembering appointments and plans
- Remembering where they placed commonly used objects
- Planning and organizing
- Making good decisions
While these are some of the most common warning signs of Alzheimer’s, symptoms may vary between seniors.
Middle Stage (moderate)
The middle stage is the longest and will last for many years. A senior will need more assistance and care than what they did during the first stage.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Increased memory loss
- Mood swings
- Withdrawing from social events, and people
- Difficulty controlling bladders and bowels
- Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty recalling their personal information and past
- Personality and behavioral changes
Late Stage (Severe)
During the final stage of the disease, symptoms will become severe, and a senior will need to transition to a memory care community if they haven’t already.
Seniors will now need around-the-clock care and support, as they will be unable to care for themselves and complete daily tasks.
Don’t wait until the late stages of the disease to prepare their transition to a care community.
Seniors will experience the following:
- Have difficulty communicating
- Need help with all activities
- Struggle to chew and swallow
- Lack the motor skills needed to walk and sit
- Lose awareness
- Become vulnerable to infections
What to know about Alzheimer’s
While there is still a lot to learn about Alzheimer’s disease, scientists are gradually learning more about the causes and treatments.
Today, most doctors and scientists agree that Alzheimer’s is caused by a combination of factors, such as age, genetics, and the environment.
Other common causes may be head trauma, air pollution, and lifestyle choices like an unhealthy diet, poor sleep patterns, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug use.
These factors lead to an overabundance of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain, disrupting and destroying neural connections essential to cognitive functioning.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are different types of treatment to make the condition manageable.
Two commonly prescribed medications that help with memory and cognitive symptoms are cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine.
There is also a new medication available called monoclonal antibody, referred to as Biogen. For seniors in the early stage of Alzheimer’s, this may be a promising drug, as it helps remove protein buildup in the brain.
What to do after a diagnosis?
If you are the caregiver or family member of a loved one that has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you will want to monitor their symptoms.
As a progressive neurodegenerative disease, you will need to remember to reevaluate your senior’s symptoms often. Just because they may be able to live at home now safely doesn’t mean this will be the case a month from now.
As their cognitive functioning declines and their needs increase, it will become more challenging and time-consuming to keep them safe.
While you may want to keep your loved one in their home for as long as possible, there will likely come a time when it is no longer the best decision for them or yourself.
How to discuss moving with your loved one
Before the conversation, plan what you would like to say to your senior loved one and assure that you have the time. There is nothing worse than a rushed conversation with distractions.
Their initial reaction may be negative, but that doesn’t mean they won’t become more understanding and accepting after hearing what you have to say.
During the conversation, try to stay calm and positive as you explain the benefits of community living. They may be excited to learn about the life-enrichment activities and satisfactory dining services that are offered. Maybe they have been lonely and love the idea of having opportunities to socialize.
If they are still upset at the end of your conversation or have a lot to say, listen respectively and compassionately. Showing them that you care about what they have to say is another way of showing them that you only want what is best for them.
Safe and comfortable living
Now that you understand the warning signs of Alzheimer’s, hopefully you feel better equipped to help your loved one and transition them to assisted senior living.
The Kensington Sierra Madre is a safe, secure, and comfortable choice for a senior with Alzheimer’s.
We are an enhanced assisted living and memory care community that offers licensed nurses, on-site rehabilitation services, medication management, life enrichment activities, and outstanding dining services.
Our Promise is to love and care for your loved one as we do our own, which is why our staff provides our residents with compassion, attention, and support. Contact us to learn more about our communities, programs, and services.