10 Warning Signs of Dementia

Welcome everybody to the Wellsprings Home Care Podcast. As usual, I’m your host Justin Currie. I am the owner and a certified Senior Care Manager here at Wellsprings Home Care. So today we’re going to jump right into the topic we have which is 10 Warning Signs of Dementia. We’re going to list out the different warning signs. We’re not going to get into a treatment and things like that. This is just an overview of some of the warning signs to watch out for.  

What is Dementia? 

Dementia is essentially an impaired thought process. There’s also a lack of decision making abilities as well as memory loss. And now according to the CDC, with individuals over the age of 65 there is 5 million seniors that currently have dementia, and by the year 2060 that number is supposed to explode to 14 million seniors with dementia. So, obviously with our baby boomer population, we have more and more seniors over the age of 65 every day, and that is going to continue to increase for quite a few decades to come. So this is going to be a major issue moving forward. 

Signs of dementia 

  1. Memory loss – This can be confusion with either short or long term memory. Any family member or any loved one that knows the individual well, they’re going to really recognize this, they’re going to notice that maybe they’re forgetting where they’re putting their keys day to day or they’re forgetting things out of the fridge and that’s more along the lines of short term. But when we get to the point of forgetting family members, friends, things like that from a long time ago, then we’re dealing with long term memory loss. 
  1. Language struggles – So that’s just a more along the lines of speech issues. They’re mixing up words or they misunderstand the meanings of words, they’re using their language incorrectly, something that’s really unusual and uncommon for them. 
  1. Familiar tasks that they’re used to doing on a daily basis, they become more difficult. – These would be things like cleaning the house, meal preparations and cooking, paying the bills – anything along those lines that you’re doing on a daily basis, and you recognize that they’re, struggling a little bit. 
  1. Lack of proper judgment – This can include things like, just general confusion, having trouble with recognition of danger. They might be having trouble with things like leaving the stove on, leaving papers or something on top of the stove. If there’s a fireplace, leaving that on, leaving candles out overnight, anything that they’re just not totally recognizing as a dangerous situation. And another one as far as lack of proper judgment would be wandering. Obviously this is a very common concern with individuals with dementia. There’s people that wander out onto the street, they’ll wander onto a busy road, they’ll wander at night out of their home, so obviously this is a major safety concern 
  1. Keeping track of things just becomes more difficult as they grow a little bit older – So this would be things like just personal hygiene, let’s say like oral care, brushing your teeth daily, bathing, showering, toileting, things like that. You might have a loved one when you go over to visit, they smell a little bit ripe, you know, they’re obviously unsure of when to shower when they showered last. They have a little bit of difficulty understanding and comprehending that. And finances would be another thing that they have trouble keeping track of. If you’re a family member, you’re looking at their bank statements or you’re looking at items around the house that they’ve purchased and anything that kind of catches your eye is unusual, you should definitely investigate a little bit further into because they do get a little bit confused when it comes to that and obviously trouble with the finances can be a major problem down the road. 
  1. Mood and behavior change – if you have somebody who’s typically a very cheerful person and you know, they don’t have a lot of mood swings. When you see someone like that – having a major behavior change, maybe it’s anger or they’re getting angry at certain things that they never used to and just general agitation. Maybe you have a really good relationship with them and you have all your life, but they get really agitated with things you’re saying and things you’re doing. And a lot of people take that personally, unfortunately. And you really can’t, it is really part of the mental illness and it’s not to be taken to heart. You really have to understand the disease and know where that’s coming from. 
  1. Spatial confusion – That’s just when you don’t have a general awareness of your surroundings, you’re getting confused with things like distances. Maybe if they’re still driving, they can’t totally comprehend the clearance between two vehicles and they’re bumping into vehicles or posts any inanimate objects, anything like that can be a sign of a little bit of confusion when it comes to their surroundings. 
  1. Time and Place disorientation – That’s simply just when they’re not totally understanding of their day and night. They’re may be staying up at night, sleeping during the day, you know, they’re unsure of where they’re at. A lot of the time they could be in their living room that they’ve lived in for 50 years and they think they’re in a health care facility or a movie theater or anywhere but their home. Those are definitely good indicators you want to want to really watch out for. 
  1. Misplacing everyday items – So we, we discussed this a little bit, just things like car keys, wallets, phones, they’re just losing them on a consistent basis. You’re finding them in very strange places. You might find all wallet in the fridge or the keys down below under the sink in the cupboard – they can really kind of hide things anywhere and it’s really different with each person, but it takes somebody who knows them really well to recognize the changes that are happening throughout the stages of dementia. 
  1. No interest in social activities – You might typically have a person that’s used to going out, meeting with their friends, maybe out for lunch or maybe they’re exercising, going for a walk together, and they just seem to lose interest in that and they lose touch with their friends or with their family and they just sort of lack interest. That’s another thing that’s along the lines of you’re a family member or a friend that knows them really well, you’re going to really recognize they want to stop hanging out. They don’t want to be really a part of anyone else’s life anymore. So you’ll recognize that and that’s another sign to watch out for. 

So all in all, those are the 10 warning signs of dementia. There’s a lot of other little indicators. There’s different ways to treat dementia – we’ll get into that in a different podcast but as for right now, that’s all we have for you today and we really appreciate you stopping by and we’ll see you again soon. Thanks a lot. 

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What is Sundowning in Dementia Patients?

Sundowning, also known as late-day confusion or sundown syndrome, is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s, or other dementia-related diseases, and occurs in the late afternoon or early evening. This usually occurs in the mid to severe stages of dementia, and it’s important to learn the symptoms, triggers, and how you can help.

Dementia patients

Symptoms of Sundown Syndrome

1 out of 5 seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease experience sundown syndrome. However, it can also affect those who are not diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms to look out for include:

• Irritability
• Confusion
• Demanding or aggressive behavior
• Restlessness
• Disorientation
• Suspicion or distrust

Additionally, your parent or loved one may also exhibit uncharacteristic behaviors, such as yelling, having delusions, or drastic mood swings.

What Causes Sundowning?

While the exact causes of sundowning are unknown, many researchers believe that it has to do with the body’s internal clock. Someone with Alzheimer’s may find it hard to differentiate when to stay awake or go to sleep, as that part of the brain begins to lose function.

There are also many triggers of sundown syndrome. It’s important to find these triggers early on, so that you can help your loved one be as comfortable as possible when combatting these symptoms.

Such triggers can include less light in the home, or more shadows. This can initiate fear and feelings of anxiety, along with disorientation and the inability to separate dreams from reality.

How to Reduce Symptoms of Sundowning

The best ways to reduce symptoms of sundown syndrome are to start by identifying the triggers. Once you know what these are, you can begin to help your loved one avoid them, and continue to these other helpful habits:

Stick to a Routine

Because dementia can make it difficult to remember simple routines, changes can arouse feelings of confusion, anger, and anxiety in your loved one. Keeping a strict regimen can be helpful in reducing sundowning symptoms and allow your parent or relative to feel at ease.

Keep the Lights On

Light therapy is another option when looking to lessen the effects of sundown syndrome. Simply use a full-spectrum fluorescent light, placing it about a meter away from your loved one, and leaving it for a few hours every morning. Additionally, turning on or up the lights in their home can help, too – especially at night.

Stay Active

Because sundown syndrome is thought to derive from changes in circadian rhythms, seniors are often tired and inactive during the days, which leads them to restlessness at night. Helping them stay up and active during the day can create healthier sleep patterns, and essentially combat sundowning symptoms.

Encourage Healthy Eating

Large meals, caffeine, and alcohol consumption can also trigger sundowning symptoms. Tried to encourage your loved one to eat a lighter meal for dinner, or even a big snack. Limiting caffeine and alcohol after lunch is recommended, as well.

Stay Educated on Sundown Syndrome

If your loved one is suffering from sundown syndrome related to Alzheimer’s, our team at WellSprings Home Care will be more than happy to help. Contact us for more information at (610) 463-0880 or call for a Free Consultation today!

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The Stages of Dementia: What you Need to Know to Care for Your Loved One

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, one of the first questions you may want to ask is, “What stage is it?” Knowing the stages of dementia can help you to cope with the disease and be as supportive as possible to your aging relative.

It’s important to prepare yourself and your family members for how quickly the effects of dementia can start to change your aging loved one. Additionally, it will provide you with a rough timeline for what kind of care your parent or relative may need along the way.

Dementia Care

The Stages of Dementia

Stage 1: No Impairment

While this may not seem like a “stage” of dementia, the first signs of dementia begin with showing no symptoms at all. This is why it can be hard to spot the disorder right away. No mental or cognitive impairments are existent, nor are any other symptoms associated with dementia.

Stage 2: Very Mild Cognitive Impairment

Forgetting things like where keys are placed or someone’s name can also be deceiving, as these can be normal signs of aging – as well as the second stage of dementia. Again, this stage is difficult because age-related forgetfulness is completely normal.

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment

It’s not until the cognitive issues become more apparent to caregivers and family members that we enter into stage 3 of dementia. While seniors are usually still able to perform regular activities, they may suffer from other symptoms such as:

• Memory loss
• Confusion with complex tasks, like driving
• Trouble with concentration
• Repetition
• Issues with managing finances and money

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Impairment

The symptoms of stage 4 seemingly build upon those in stage 3, and also include:
• Incontinence
• Trouble with finishing sentences or finding the right word
• Increasing memory loss
• Emotional or social withdrawal

Additionally, your loved one may start to have difficulty with performing daily tasks, such as laundry or light household chores at this stage.

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Impairment

At stage 5 in the progress of dementia, seniors may begin to have difficulty with dressing, bathing, and other normal activities. This is considered the mid-point of the syndrome, where assistance may be needed around the clock.

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Impairment

Depending on the diagnosis, stage 6 is also considered moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors will need help with personal hygiene routines, dressing themselves, and general supervision. They also may experience hallucinations, paranoia, and can become unable to recognize familiar places and family members.

Stage 7: Very Severe Cognitive Impairment

At the last stage of dementia, also considered severe Alzheimer’s, the person suffering is likely unable to walk, speak, or use motor skills. He or she may need help eating, and may lose control over urination and/or muscles.

If your aging loved one is showing early signs of dementia, it’s important to know what’s next in order to find the help that he or she needs. If you are considering home care as an option, please feel free to contact us at WellSprings Home Care, and we will be happy to take the next steps with you. Book a Free Consultation today!

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The Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Elderly Woman

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are typically used interchangeably in conversation. However, while they certainly have overlapping symptoms, there are distinguishing features between the two.

Alzheimer’s falls under one of the brain diseases more generally known as dementia; in other words, dementia is the umbrella term for brain disorders that affect memory, decision-making, and emotional control.

Dementia Symptoms and Causes

As mentioned, dementia is the more general term for brain disorders that impair memory, among several other disabilities. The symptoms can begin subtly, and may go unnoticed for some time, or simply be associated with the aging process. However, it’s important to look for these signs early on to establish a treatment plan.

Some symptoms of dementia include:

  • Recent memory loss
  • Trouble with focus or concentration
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Problems with speech
  • Difficulty with normal, daily tasks

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s, along with other diseases such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s. However, some other causes can include HIV, depression, stroke, or drug abuse.

Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Causes

While dementia encompasses Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are far more progressive and debilitating. Alzheimer’s disease not only affects the brain in terms of memory and cognitive function, but there is no definitive cause for the disease.

The progression of Alzheimer’s can be quick, especially in those over 80 years old. By the end of the progression, this disease can debilitate a person’s total memory, speech, and ability to function. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear years after the damage to the brain has been done, making treatment difficult.

Treatment for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Just like their symptoms, many treatment plans for dementia and Alzheimer’s will overlap. While Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, the symptoms can be managed – which is why it’s important to look for Early Signs of Dementia in your loved one.

Some treatment programs may include:

  • Depression or anti-psychotic medications
  • Sleep medications
  • Holistic treatments, like coconut oil or fish oil
  • Talk therapy
  • Home care to reduce stress

With dementia specifically, the effects of treatment depend on what it is that’s causing the dementia. Some cases of dementia can be reversed, while most others, such as those caused by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, cannot.

Alzheimer’s, however, is a terminal disease. One can live with the illness between 4-8 years, or in some cases, as long as 20 years. Consulting a doctor as soon as symptoms are apparent, or regular checkups to receive as early a diagnosis as possible, is key to developing a plan in dealing with Alzheimer’s or any dementia diagnosis.

Finding Home Care for Your Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, a home caregiver can aid in lessening the stress of daily tasks that may become more difficult. At WellSprings Home Care, we have a staff of trained and educated caregivers who will be happy to help. Give us a call at (610) 463-0880 or schedule a or schedule a Free Consultation, and we’ll help you get started.

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Early Signs of Dementia

Dementia in your aging loved one

The early signs of dementia in your aging loved one may start as subtle changes that you don’t notice right away. Forgetfulness, mixed-up speech, and behavior changes might seem normal at first, but failing to act right away can lead to larger problems as the disease progresses.

The good news is, you can spot these early signs of dementia with the right knowledge and potentially slow down the progress. Keep reading to find out the most common symptoms so that you can get your loved one the help he or she needs right when it starts.

Dementia, or Just Aging?

One thing to note before we dive into the symptoms of early dementia is that these signs can typically be confused with the aging process, itself. It’s completely normal to forget where you’ve placed your keys, or what day of the week it is, which is why recognizing dementia when it starts can be difficult.

While we’ll go through the most common early signs of dementia, we’ll compare it to normal age-related changes, so that you can spot the subtle differences in yourself or your loved one.

  1. Memory Loss

Memory loss might be the most common symptom of both aging and early dementia. The difference? A sign of dementia is forgetting something recent, such as a doctor’s appointment or telephone number, and not remembering it at all. A normal sign of aging is forgetting such information, but recalling it later on.

  1. Confusion

Whether it’s with directions in a typically familiar area, or losing track of time and dates, confusion is a common symptom of dementia. However, if you or your loved one are confused about something such as the day of the week, but work it out later, this is normally just a sign of aging.

  1. Issues with Speaking or Writing

Using words incorrectly, forgetting common vocabulary, or starting a sentence with no idea how to finish it, are all signs of early dementia. However, simply having trouble finding the right word to explain something is a normal part of the aging process.

  1. Trouble with Daily Tasks

A person suffering from early dementia symptoms may forget how to do simple, everyday tasks, such as preparing a meal, locking the door, or turning off the oven. This is different from forgetting something menial, such as how to adjust the microwave settings.

  1. Difficulty with Handling Finances

Another early sign of dementia involves handling finances. If you notice that your parent or loved one is spending money more than usual, forgetting or struggling to pay bills, or having issues with calculations in general, consider consulting their doctor.

  1. Unexplained Mood Swings

Beginning stages of dementia can also bring on uncharacteristically changing mood swings. Your loved one may feel angry, depressed, or experience anxiety and panic attacks one minute, and be back to normal the next. On the other hand, it’s normal for one to become irritated due to something such as a change in routine.

Learn More About Early Signs of Dementia

If you believe that your loved one may be experiencing some beginning signs of dementia, it’s best to consult with his or her doctor first. Additionally, our team at WellSprings Home Care is happy to offer trained home care providers if he or she needs extra help at home. Contact us at (610) 463-0880 or schedule a Free Consultation today!

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