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Recognizing the Signs of Dementia in Elders

Dementia seems to creep up slowly, and many people do not realize they have observed the early signs and symptoms of dementia in their elderly loved ones. Many of us have difficulty asking others for help, and the elderly are no different. Even though they may realize their mental capacities are beginning to diminish, they may not let others know that they are struggling. There are several key signs and symptoms that you can be on the lookout for that may indicate that an elderly loved one is experiencing dementia.

Cognitive Changes

There are various types of cognitive changes that you need to be aware of that could be signs that your loved one is experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. These can include the following:

  • Memory loss or memory problems
  • Getting lost or disoriented easily
  • Challenges when planning organizing anything
  • Trouble choosing the right words
  • Repeatedly asking the same questions

Often, the cognitive signs of dementia are written off as the typical processes of aging, but they could be the signs of a more serious problem. If you begin to notice a pattern of significant cognitive decline, you should take your loved one to the doctor so they can recommend appropriate tests and treatment.

Psychological and Behavioral Changes

Any of the following psychological or behavioral changes may be signs that your loved one is going into dementia:

  • Trouble with their coordination or motor functions
  • Agitation or paranoia during everyday activities
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Lack of proper hygiene
  • Not properly dressing for the climate
  • Their home or living quarters becoming unorganized or unclean
  • Mail or bills piling up
  • Cooking or baking pans that are burnt (an indicator of short term memory loss)
  • Missing doctor’s appointments or not taking medications
  • Poor eating and nutrition habits
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Any unexplained injuries

Talking to Your Loved One

If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms of dementia, you need to approach the situation delicately. Sometimes, elderly people realize that something is wrong, but they may not be ready to admit it because they will have to give up much of their independence.

You should calmly talk to your loved one about your concerns and let them know what you have observed related to their behavior and cognitive changes. Tell them that you would like them to go to the doctor to get the appropriate screenings so that they can begin any treatment that may help slow the progression of dementia.

It may also be time to have a discussion with your loved one and other family members about an assisted living facility. This will be particularly important if you or somebody else is unable to properly tend to your loved one’s daily needs.

What to Do if You Suspect Abuse

If you ever suspect that your elderly loved one is experiencing any kind of abuse, you should report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. This can include law enforcement officials as well as various regulatory agencies if the abuse is occurring inside of an assisted living facility. Unfortunately, those with dementia experience elder abuse at higher rates than those who do not have dementia. You should work with a skilled elder abuse attorney who can help investigate your claim of abuse and help ensure that your loved one receives the justice and compensation they deserve.