Despite the fact your senior clients may be still sharp as a whip and able to remember important dates and appointments doesn’t mean that they won’t begin to show signs of having issues relating to dementia or Alzheimer’s at some point during your time together. If they already have been diagnosed with early onset of either of these, then it can be useful to know what to look for in terms of the diseases worsening.
It’s important to differentiate between dementia and Alzheimer’s, though. They are not, in fact, the same disease although dementia can be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Dementia is generally an umbrella term used to describe memory loss and impaired thinking but may not be caused by Alzheimer’s itself and can be caused by other serious diseases such as Lewy Body Syndrome or Parkinson’s disease. With that in mind, here are some things to watch for in terms of the beginning of either dementia or Alzheimer’s so that you can make appropriate decisions in terms of the care needed for your elderly clients.
While some memory loss is normal as we age, significant problems remembering recent information or asking for the same information multiple times can be an early sign that indicates an issue.
Struggles With Formerly Normal Tasks
Things like balancing a checkbook, paying bills, following favourite recipes, and taking longer to do things than they used to can be a sign of a worsening illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Problems At Home, Work or With Friends
Difficulty finding their way to the homes of friends or family and completing tasks that they have daily in the past with no worry can be a sign of worsening brain health.
Difficulty Remembering Appointments and Locations
Showing up on a Thursday to the doctor for an appointment scheduled for Saturday at the hairdresser can be quite a clear indicator of something not right and is quite a large mistake to make in terms of location/timing and so should be looked into further.
Struggles With Language, Colors and Numbers
Suddenly forgetting words for common items used daily or having difficulty with colours and spatial relationships can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Repetition of speech, stopping mid sentence and getting confused and making up strange names for items can also be a pointer to something more serious going on. Likewise, if they suddenly start referring to children, friends or other relatives by names from someone from their long past (such as a deceased aunt from 40 years ago or a childhood friend), it can be a hint to get them checked out.
Getting Angry At Small Problems
If it’s out of character for your senior client to get angry at the drop of a hat, it could be an indication of a problem in terms of brain activity and health. Uncharacteristic outbursts over the smallest things such as mislaying an item, getting their shoes mixed up or the like can be a sign that something is going on, especially if paired with other symptoms such as some mentioned above.