As we get older the fragility of our elderly loved ones – our parents and grandparents – become increasingly more prevalent. Growing up they were our pillars, the people we looked up to, our strength in time of need and our confidants when we needed advice. Many of us paint them in the picture of our childhood, and don’t always see the ageing of their bodies and minds – or at least many won’t acknowledge it to themselves – as it happens. 

In those situations, it sometimes feels as though dementia has creeped up on you, and all of a sudden, your loved one needs more help than you are able to provide.

Identifying The Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease

The early on-set symptoms are not always easy to decipher between whether they are normal signs of ageing or truly a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. 

Here are 10 possible warning signs and symptoms.

  1. Memory loss – We all have those moments where we forgot where we placed our keys, but when memory loss starts disrupting your daily life, it could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Such events could include anything from forgetting important events to asking the same question repeatedly.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems – Occasional errors when managing finances or household bills are normal, but when errors lead to altogether forgetting to pay bills, or even the inability to follow a familiar recipe, it could be a sign that something is amiss.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks – This could be anything from how to use the microwave or TV to compiling a grocery list, or getting lost driving to a familiar location.
  4. Confusion with time or place – This is more than arriving for an event a week late that you had mistakenly diarised in your calendar. People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of seasons, days or the passage of time. They may have trouble with understanding something if it is not happening immediately, or forget how they got somewhere.
  5. Trouble understanding spatial relationships – Vision usually deteriorates over time or due to cataracts, but with Alzheimer’s it could lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading, judging distance or determining colour or contrast.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing – Not to be confused with trouble finding the right word, but more so about trouble following or joining a conversation. People that may have Alzheimer’s may stop in the middle of telling a story, repeat themselves, or even jump into your story with something completely unrelated. They may have trouble with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object, or use the wrong name to identify it.
  7. Misplacing things or losing the ability to retrace steps – This goes far beyond not finding that set of car keys or wallet. A person with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places and may accuse others of stealing it when they can’t locate it.
  8. Decreased or poor judgement – They may use poor judgement when dealing with money, or pay less attention to grooming and personal hygiene.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities – As one of the symptoms is difficulty in following conversations, a result could be that they withdraw from social activities or engagements.
  10. Changes in mood or personality – Persons with Alzheimer’s may be easily upset at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone. This is more than just about having their routine upset. Typical emotions they could show are that of being confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious or angry.

Where To Start

If you notice one or more of these signs, it can be difficult to know what to do. It’s natural to feel uncertain or nervous, but it is important to take action to figure out what is going on. 

The first step is to have your loved one evaluated by a doctor. With early detection, some of the symptoms could be relieved through treatments.

What Are Your Options

It is important to research and understand your options should your loved one be identified as being in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and no longer able to take care of themselves.

There are many specialist assistance options for Alzheimer’s patients. The treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia require special dementia care staff, as well as the activities specially tailored to those suffering cognitive decline.

The more specialised the facility is to care for your loved one, the more at ease they will feel in their environment, and the more engaged they will become in their activities. 

Find out about the types of facilities that could be available to you, outside of a specialist Alzheimer’s facility

Livewell has been built and developed from the ground up to provide the ideal environment for providing specialist Alzheimer’s care and support to people with dementia. Every individual dementia carer has been specially trained to work with and treat people who suffer from cognitive decline and receive constant training to keep their knowledge of the disease and how to treat it up to date. Livewell offers patients access to an extensive team of experts in their fields of neuropsychology and occupational therapy. 

That is what sets Livewell apart from retirement homes, but what really sets us apart from other memory care facilities is our individualised care.

Choosing the right care home for your loved one with dementia is not easy and there are many factors that play a role. Livewell Village is a specialised dementia and Alzheimer facility in South Africa with qualified and trained nursing and care staff providing round the clock care to their residents. If you need help deciding on what is best for your loved one, speak to one of our trained family advisors today.