Early Stage Dementia: What To Do

Recognizing Early Stage Alzheimer’s in the Washington DC area

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that affects each individual differently. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for roughly 80% of all new dementia diagnoses. Each stage of Alzheimer’s introduces symptoms that directly impacts the cognitive and functional abilities of the individual. In the early stage of the disease, symptoms are generally mild and may be difficult to notice. At this stage, the individual may functional independently with the ability to complete all of their own activities of daily living. However, they may begin experiencing frequent memory lapses or the inability to identify familiar words. Friends and family may notice the individual struggling with performing routine tasks or maintaining organization. During a medical examination, doctors may identify problems in memory or concentration. It can be helpful to involve Senior Care professionals, family and friends in the examination to provide their personal accounts of symptoms, as the individual may not be readily able to identify changes in themselves.

Common challenges in the Early-Stage of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulties with planning or organization
  • Difficulties with recalling the right word or name for familiar objects
  • Difficulties with performing social or work tasks
  • Frequent memory lapses
  • Frequently losing or misplacing valuable objects
  • Difficulties with retaining new information
  • Difficulty following storylines
  • Deteriorating sense of direction

Once medical examinations are completed and an Alzheimer’s dementia diagnosis is received, it’s important to optimize the safety and quality of life of the individual. Caregivers and friends should provide the individual with support and empathy while preparing for upcoming challenges ahead. Senior Home Care professionals should discuss advance directives and preferred future plans of care with the individual, to ensure that their wishes are upheld when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Take the time to carefully plan for comprehensive and holistic care which meets the entire needs of the individual– it’s the best way to honor their life and legacy. Finding holistic and comprehensive care in the Washington, D.C area can be challenging. However, care that is tailored to the needs of the individual and enhances their well-being is essential to ensuring longevity.

Sources

Alzheimer’s Association . (2017). Stages of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from alz.org: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp#mild

Higuera, V., & Ellis, M. (2016, July 12). 10 Early Symptoms of Dementia. Retrieved from healthline.com: http://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/early-warning-signs

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Dementia. Retrieved from mayoclinic.org: http:www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/dxc-20198511

A Season for Everything: Finding a Sense of Purpose

The French call having a sense of purpose a raison d’être. Literally translated, this means “reason to live.”shutterstock_85008562

How appropriate: Researchers have found a critical connection between having a sense of purpose and living a longer, healthier life. A study published in 2012 in the Journal of American Medicine found that senior adults with a sense of purpose were 2.4 times as likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s disease than those who scored low on the study’s “purpose scale.” An earlier report in Psychosomatic Medicine found that those with a sense of purpose also were more likely to live longer.

For many senior adults, finding their raison d’etre can be challenging. With their children grown and their careers behind them, they struggle to define their new roles within their families and their communities.

But as Ecclesiastes (and the late, great Pete Seeger) remind us: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Seniors may no longer have the same role they had in their younger days, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have new, equally important roles. In fact, senior adults bring a depth and breadth of life experience that can make them valuable contributors in so many ways.

 So how do we engage seniors to ensure they have a sense of purpose, a reason to live?

shutterstock_154468847In our homes, we can be intentional about including them in family discussions and decisions and creating opportunities for them to share their thoughts and experiences. Taking things a step further, we can encourage them to become involved in the community, whether it be volunteering for a favorite cause, or campaigning in a local political race, or serving on a committee at church.

The key, truly, is in that word, “engage.” It is critical that the individual find a connection to the activity and that it has real meaning to him or her. To get started, check out these resources for ideas and activities in your area: