Dementia | Pioneer Place Memory

What Are the Signs of Dementia You Should Watch For?

Dementia is a general term for diseases and disorders that affect a person’s memory, cognitive function, and decision-making abilities. Alzheimer’s disease is the best-known type of dementia, but there are others, as well. 

Most people associate dementia exclusively with memory loss. While this is one of the most obvious symptoms, there are also other signs that dementia is beginning to take a toll on seniors, and knowing how to recognize them is crucial for family caregivers. Read on to find out about some other red flags to look for that indicate someone may be in the early stages of developing dementia.

1. Difficulty Following Instructions or Completing Tasks

Occasional lapses in concentration leading to difficulty recalling lists or following directions are normal, especially in aging populations. However, a pattern of having trouble completing familiar tasks is often a red flag that someone is beginning to develop dementia. Trouble managing finances is one of the most common examples of this issue. Everyone makes computing errors, but seniors with dementia may sit down to balance their checkbooks and suddenly have no idea what the numbers are for.

2. Mood, Personality, and Behavioral Changes

Although all three of these changes can also be associated with depression, a common problem in aging adults, surprising alterations in how someone behaves, what activities they engage in, or how they act, that’s a good sign of impending dementia. In the earlier stages, social withdrawal is one of the most noticeable changes in most seniors. Inappropriate, insensitive behavior and apathy can soon follow, as can other worrisome and occasionally dangerous personality changes. Moving to a memory care community where staff is trained to manage common behavioral issues and encourage positive social interactions can help as difficulties begin to arise.

3. Confusion About Time and Place

Forgetting what day it is once in a while is no big deal, especially for retirees. Without a consistent work schedule, it’s not as important. However, people with undiagnosed dementia can forget not just what day it is but also the time, season, or even the year. Dementia can also cause confusion about places, and some seniors may forget where they are and how they got there, especially in unfamiliar environments.

4. Disruptive Sleep Patterns

Research shows that there is a correlation between disrupted sleep in middle-aged adults and the development of dementia symptoms later in life. People who get less than six hours of sleep per night in their 50s and 60s are 30% more likely to develop dementia as they get older. As the disease progresses, waking up extremely early in the morning and frequently throughout the night can also become commonplace problems. If this is the case for a loved one who is also at risk of falls, it may be time to consider professional dementia care so that round-the-clock supervision can be provided.

5. Poor Judgment

People who are developing dementia often exhibit a pattern of poor judgment that can eventually put them in danger. Examples can include choosing clothing that is not appropriate for the season, failing to acknowledge medical problems, or not keeping up with daily personal hygiene. Some older adults in need of memory care services also begin to make poor financial decisions, such as spending beyond their means or giving away money to scammers.

6. Spatial Disorientation

Some dementia patients, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, begin to experience vision problems as a result of the changes in their brains. They could struggle with depth perception, for example, or trouble distinguishing colors and contrast. In up to 15% of people developing Alzheimer’s disease, a visual disorder called posterior cortical atrophy is the first symptom to appear. In these cases, patients can see but cannot make sense of the information.

7. Loss of Smell

A gradual decline in the ability to smell can be a key earning warning sign of dementia. This problem may make itself clear when loved ones cannot smell their own body odor from forgetting to bathe, or when they fail to identify food that has gone bad in the fridge. The change is gradual, often occurring over the course of several years before the development of other signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment, but can be viewed as a warning sign of trouble to come.

Compassionate, Respectful Care

Everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and respect, especially residents of nursing homes in Tacoma WA. At Pioneer Place Memory Haven, we provide a comfortable and engaging environment for seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and a program of care that is based on our Christian values. Visit our website to learn about our services and amenities or call (253) 539-3410 to schedule a tour today.

Phone 253-539-3410