It’s normal for an aging brain to experience occasional forgetfulness. Just like our skin doesn’t act the same in our 60s as it did in our 20s, neither do our brains. Even though an occasional memory blip can be a normal part of getting older, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating or concerning.
Whether a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s or has been diagnosed with the disease, here’s how you can best support them and ensure they receive the care they need.
10 signs & symptoms of Alzheimer’s
How can you tell whether or not a loved one’s memory is experiencing normal aging troubles or something more serious? An example of normal forgetfulness might look like your loved one being unable to remember someone’s name when they bump into them at the grocery store, but recalling it on the drive home. If in the same instance your loved one is unable to recall the name at all or perhaps doesn’t even recognize the person, it could be something more serious.
To help determine the difference between normal aging and dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association outlines these 10 signs to look for:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble with vision or spatial relationships
- New problems with words, speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and being unable to go back over their steps
- Decreased or poor judgement
- Withdrawing from work or social activities
- Changes in mood or personality
Of course, if you have concerns about changes in your loved one’s memory, talk to their care team soon. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can lead to treatment options that lessen symptoms and also allows you and your loved one more time to plan for the future.
Helpful Ways to Support Your Loved One
There are three primary stages of Alzheimer’s: early, middle and late. How you can best support your loved one will depend upon their symptoms and which stage of the disease they are in, but one thing is for sure — your support will be valuable every step of the way.
Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s might experience cognitive difficulties but can remain quite independent, working, driving and engaging in social activities as they are comfortable. During this stage, your loved one might find memory cues to be helpful. You can also encourage your loved one to establish a daily routine and work together to make a plan for the future.
The middle stage of Alzheimer’s can be the longest of the stages. In this stage, you might notice your loved one start to jumble words or have difficulty performing everyday activities like getting dressed. You can support your loved one by assisting them with daily tasks and encouraging their strengths. You and your loved one both might benefit from outside support as well.
People in the late stage of Alzheimer’s experience significant cognitive decline and difficulty with physical activities. Your loved one will likely require round-the-clock care in this stage for assistance with eating, moving and grooming. During this stage, you can provide great comfort and support to your loved one through reassuring touch, looking through old photos together or listening to music they enjoy.
As you care for your loved one, it’s equally important to continue to care of yourself. Finding ways to take even a few moments for yourself, accepting the help of a friend or attending an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group can help give you a break and remind you that you are not alone.
Alzheimer’s Care Options
The support of outside care providers can be valuable at any stage, but especially if your loved one is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s.
Adult day centers
Adult day centers offer caregivers a break by providing a safe environment for stimulating programming and socialization opportunities for those with memory issues. Additionally, many adult day centers offer counseling or support groups for caregivers and families. You can use the Community Resource Finder from the Alzheimer’s Association and the AARP to find options for your loved one around Kansas City.
In-home care providers come in many different forms. Some can be hired to provide companionship to your loved one or to help with homemaking tasks, while others might assist with personal care or provide skilled medical care. What type of help you hire and for how long will depend upon your needs and those of your loved one.
Respite care, as the name suggests, is a care option that helps provide a reprieve to the caregiver. Many senior living communities offer respite care, where your loved one can stay and receive all the benefits of residential care for a brief period, from a few days to a few weeks depending upon the community.
While respite care is a temporary stay in a senior living community, residential care is a permanent move to a community. Some residential care options might specialize in one particular area of care like skilled nursing or memory support, while others, like continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), have a comprehensive approach to care and include residences for those in independent living as well as for those who require additional support.
How Claridge Court Can Support Your Loved One
Claridge Court is a CCRC in Prairie Village, Kansas, offering luxury independent living to active older adults. Our on-site health center provides access to skilled nursing and rehabilitation services and boasts a stellar five-star Medicare rating.
At Claridge Court, we are passionate about successful aging. For residents living with Alzheimer’s or other memory issues, this includes encouraging them to remain active and engaged in our community and continuing to provide a meaningful and dignified life filled with opportunities for mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing.
In order to meet and exceed the needs of our residents, our team meets weekly to ensure we are taking care of our those who might be showing signs of decline. If you are worried about a loved one in our community, we will work with you to establish a care plan, whether that’s a permanent or respite stay in our health center or the utilization of our Lifespace Personal Services. Together, we can find a solution that fits your family’s needs and allows your loved one to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.
If you’d like to learn more about the personalized services available at Claridge Court, please get in touch. We can provide additional details about how we can best support your loved one.