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Understanding Dementia Symptoms in Seniors

Posted on 
June 23, 2023

It's estimated that over 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's, with 12.7 million projected to have the condition by 2050. Those numbers don't include other types of dementia. You may eventually have a loved one who shows dementia symptoms and might benefit from a Memory Care setting, such as the stand-alone Memory Care neighborhood at Falcons Landing called Hillside House. Understanding the signs of dementia and when to consider a specialized residential dementia care program can help you ensure your loved one receives the care they need.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is the term used to describe many diseases that cause a decline in cognitive functioning. This often results in memory loss, but it also affects cognitive functioning in other ways. Personality changes, impaired judgment, communication difficulties and trouble with problem-solving may occur. Dementia isn't one specific condition; it's a collective term for all types of memory-loss disorders.

The terms "Alzheimer's" and "dementia" are often used interchangeably, but they're not the same thing. Alzheimer's is one type of dementia. All cases of Alzheimer's fall under the dementia category, but not all cases of dementia are Alzheimer's. While Alzheimer's represents 60 to 80% of dementia cases, other types of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.

Common Dementia Symptoms

Damage to brain cells causes dementia symptoms. Because of the damage, those brain cells can't properly communicate, which interferes with various functions directed by the brain. Common symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory loss: Other people tend to notice the individual's memory loss first.
  • Language difficulties: Dementia can cause people to forget words, substitute words that don't make sense, have difficulty expressing thoughts or repeat things. Someone with dementia might also struggle to follow conversations.
  • Difficulty with routine tasks: Everyday tasks that the person has always done can become difficult or take much longer than normal. This can result in failure to pay bills on time or giving up on important tasks, such as medical treatments.
  • Disorientation: People with dementia often become disoriented, which can cause them to get lost in familiar places. Disorientation can extend to time, making it difficult for the person to know what day, month, season or year it is.
  • Personality changes: You might notice sudden personality changes with dementia. The person might become withdrawn or paranoid. Sometimes the condition causes aggression, sadness, depression or inappropriate behaviors.
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making: The decline in cognitive functioning can make it challenging for people to make decisions. This can lead to risky behaviors that can affect health and safety.
  • Misplaced items: People with dementia often misplace things, placing them in really unusual spots. For example, the person may put their wallet in the freezer.

When Is It Time for Memory Care?

It may be time for a Memory Care community when you start noticing dementia symptoms that are interfering with an individual's life. Family members often start exploring Memory Care options when it's clear that their loved one is no longer safe living alone. The loved one may be unable to take care of themselves, or they may make risky decisions or become frequently disoriented.

Some people choose to serve as caregivers for their loved ones, so they can stay at home. This can be a suitable option for a while, but the job often becomes overwhelming, with family members frequently experiencing caregiver burnout. You might consider Memory Care for your loved one if you're feeling burnt out caring for them. As the person's symptoms worsen, you might no longer be able to provide adequate care because of their demands. For instance, some people with dementia start to become aggressive, which puts your safety at risk and can make them difficult to control.

Entering this type of specialized Memory Care community early could slow the progression of the disease. These communities typically incorporate dementia-friendly activities, therapies, diets and other features that could help slow cognitive decline. For that reason, exploring your Memory Care options early may be beneficial for your loved one.

Visit Our Memory Care Community

At Hillside House, our caring team offers personalized assistance to residents, who live in the comfort of private rooms. Modern finishes and lots of natural light make it an inviting place to live. Please contact us at (703) 404-5205 to talk to one of our caring team members about the warm, inviting accommodations at Hillside House. Our team can answer your questions, help you determine if Memory Care is a good fit for your loved one and schedule a personal tour of the community, so you can get to know the caregivers better.

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