1. Memory loss of recent memories
We all forget things occasionally, and forgetfulness often becomes more frequent as we grow older. There are a few reasons for this, firstly, the hippocampus – the part of the brain that forms and retrieves memories naturally slows down over time. The hormones in the brain that protect and repair brain cells, keeping them alert and healthy also decline with age too. And, older people are more likely to experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impact how they recall information.
However, if you’re finding that your loved one regularly forgets things that have happened recently, this could be an indication of dementia, and is something to talk to a GP about.
5. Confusion with place and time
Forgetting what day it is can be a normal experience for any of us, but losing complete track of dates, times and even the seasons are causes for concern. Over time, your loved one may become prone to becoming lost, even when close to home, and this is often the symptom that triggers a search for companion care solutions, such as live-in care to keep your loved one safe.
6. Problems with visual and spatial relationships
If your elderly loved one is failing to recognise themselves in the mirror, this could indicate that a cognitive condition such as Alzheimer’s has affected the part of the brain that controls spatial awareness.
Other visual problems to be aware of are hallucinations – when your loved one begins to see things that aren’t there, and difficulty in understanding the things they’re looking at, such as struggling to recognise items are around their home.
Those with Alzheimer’s may also be unable to judge braking distances when driving too, making them a hazard on the roads. This is another indication that elderly care provisions need to be put into place for your loved one’s safety.
7. Difficulties with words and language
It’s not uncommon to lose the thread of a conversation, especially for those with hearing or communication problems. However, when it occurs frequently, this can be a sign of something more serious. Those with Alzheimer’s tend to repeat themselves and have trouble joining in with conversations, as they lose their train of thought more easily.
8. Mislaying personal items
Someone with Alzheimer’s is likely to put familiar objects in completely unfamiliar places. Moreover, Alzheimer’s can create the sense of suspicion, and often those living with the condition will accuse others of stealing their belongings. This tendency increases over time and is a symptom that those experienced in dementia care are only too familiar with.
9. Changes in personality
Depression and worries about ageing can be common, but for those with Alzheimer’s, personality changes are much more severe. Many people with dementia become irritable and anxious as the disease progresses, often with bouts of depression and aggression, sometimes accompanied by hallucinations or delusions.
When combined with disrupted sleep patterns, and a loss of inhibitions, people with dementia can display challenging behaviours, which family members can find upsetting and may struggle to deal with. This is where a dedicated care at home package can be helpful, providing the individual with a calm and supportive caregiver who looks out for them 24/7.
10. Poor judgement
We can all exercise poor judgement at times, but for those with Alzheimer’s, this can occur on a regular basis. Many elderly people with dementia fall prey to door-to-door sales schemes, and telemarketers, often buying endless products that they have no need for, which can quickly deplete their savings.
Personal hygiene may deteriorate as the person with dementia forgets to bathe regularly, which is another indication that in-home help may be needed. A lack of good judgement can compromise your loved one’s safety, as they will be unable to complete simple tasks, such as preparing a meal without the risk of harming themselves.
11. Avoiding social interaction
Many elderly people suffer from loneliness, and avoiding social interactions can be symptom of low self-esteem or depression, stemming from feelings of isolation.
Frequent deliberate attempts to avoid social interaction can be a symptom of dementia too. Many people with dementia lose interest in former hobbies and pastimes as the ability to focus on a task for any length of time decreases. They may no longer engage in activities and sports that they used to enjoy and may end up actively avoiding social engagements, due to their inability to follow conversations.
It’s important to remember that all of the above can be symptoms of depression too, so this is something to consider when seeking support from a health professional.
Coming to terms with dementia
Learn more about dementia care
Take a look at more Elder guides on living with and caring for dementia.
Dementia Action Week is Alzheimer’s Society’s awareness campaign, which runs yearly to encourage people to ‘act on dementia’. At Elder, we want to shine