Memory loss and confusion are common symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than five million Americans. If you’re caring for a senior loved one who has been diagnosed with this progressive condition, you may be wondering what to expect with regard to memory-related issues. Here’s what you need to know as you continue to provide care and support for a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s.
Memory Issues in the Early Stages
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, confusion and memory loss issues are usually mild. For instance, your loved one might have difficulty recalling a recent conversation or what he or she had for breakfast. There may also be issues with:
• Knowledge of time of day or date
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, help is just a phone call away. There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading Philadelphia elder care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.
Memory Loss in Alzheimer’s Later Stages
As the disease advances, your loved one may begin to call people by the wrong names or be confused about what he or she has already done (e.g., asking “When’s dinner?” after just eating). Changes of this nature tend to most troubling for caregivers. Memory loss in later stages also tends to be combined with changes in behavior that may include depression, agitation, and mood swings.
Causes of Alzheimer’s-Related Memory Loss
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, issues with memory loss and confusion are related to brain cell damage that progressively occurs as the disease advances. While there’s no way to stop memory issues due to brain-related changes, there are medications that may reduce symptoms associated with cognitive decline. In some instances, memory loss symptoms may be worsened by:
• Changes in daily routines
• Adjustments to living arrangements
• Certain types of infections
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
How to Respond to Memory Loss
The most effective way to manage memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease is with patience and understanding. Also, try not to get personally offended if your loved one forgets your name or gets details wrong when recalling events that are meaningful to you as well. It’s all right to gently correct your loved one sometimes, but don’t press the matter if he or she begins to get frustrated or argumentative.
If your loved one realizes he or she is having memory issues, he or she may ask why. This is a good discussion to have with a doctor present. Otherwise, it’s best to avoid lengthy explanations to minimize confusion. It can also be helpful to maintain a regular routine with consistent daily habits as much as possible.
Sundowning and Confusion
Some seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia experience sundowning, which is the term for a worsening of confusion-related symptoms during the late afternoon or early evening hours. It’s not known why sundowning happens, although it may be related to sleep and wake cycle disruptions. If sundowning is worsening memory problems for your loved one, the following steps may help:
• Avoiding alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day
• Having the biggest meal of the day a bit earlier, before confusion increases
• Offering a light snack in place of a meal later in the day
• Encouraging daytime activities so your loved one will be more likely to sleep through the night
• Not providing complicated tasks to do
• Seeing the doctor about appropriate medication adjustments
Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s care, Philadelphia Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional Alzheimer’s care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (215) 645-4663.