Every adult child or close family member of a senior diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease wants to hold on to their loved ones as much as possible.
However, deteriorating physical and mental health might be a huge wake-up call that it’s time to consider memory care after all.
Memory care refers to a specialized senior care unit expert in supporting seniors with brain disorders. They aim to better the health condition of older adults by providing the best medical service and care possible.
This Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we’d like to talk about the signs of Alzheimer’s and why your loved one should get checked by their doctor if these signs are prevalent already.
Understanding The Signs of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s refers to a brain disorder characterized by the deterioration of one’s cognitive functions, such as memory, thinking, and communication.
However, this disease is more than just episodes of frequent forgetfulness and cognitive changes. Most seniors with Alzheimer’s also experience behavioral symptoms as their condition progresses into Alzheimer’s.
If you have a senior loved one or patient in Alzheimer’s assisted living, it would be good to take the time to learn and understand these behaviors related to Alzheimer’s. This way, you can help your elderly deal with these symptoms using healthy and helpful techniques.
Here are just some of the most common behaviors exhibited by Alzheimer’s patients.
As their memory loss worsens, it is common for seniors with Alzheimer’s to experience disorientation and confusion. This means your senior loved one might become confused about their current location, passage of time, and even once familiar faces.
Besides the progressing memory loss, confusion may also get triggered by certain factors, such as:
- Sudden change in the environment (e.g., moving to a new senior home)
- Paranoia, which can lead to suspicious behaviors.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s have different ways of displaying aggression. Some may use physical force or verbal aggressiveness, while others may show it in other ways like tearing tissue papers or yelling.
However, it’s important to note that these behaviors happen because, more often than not, a senior wants to communicate or convey something, such as:
- Physical pain or discomfort
- Emotional distress
- A stressful situation
- A side effect of medication
- Vision or hearing loss
Sundowning and Sleep Problems
Another behavioral symptom that comes with Alzheimer’s is called sundowning. This phenomenon refers to the increased agitation and restlessness during late afternoons, which continues throughout the evening, causing seniors to lose sleep.
Sundowning may arise due to a stressful situation, exhaustion from an activity, a disruption in their internal body clock or routine, and other factors.
Sleeping problems may also be a common theme in Alzheimer’s as the disease progresses and causes more damage to the brain.
Delusional behavior often stems from persistent memory loss and confusion, causing seniors with Alzheimer’s to fixate on false beliefs. For instance, they can become suspicious of their family members (because they do not recognize them anymore) or that a caregiver is lying to him/her.
Additionally, they can also start to invent their own truths and even manipulate people to get what they want.
How to Handle Alzheimer’s-Related Behaviors
If you encounter these kinds of behaviors, keep in mind that these are not intentional; these challenging behaviors are a product of Alzheimer’s and not from your loved one, so try not to take offense.
The best thing to do is stay calm, keep an optimistic attitude, and try to identify the cause of their behavior. Furthermore, you can also redirect their focus by engaging them in a conversation or an exciting activity.
It’s also essential to maintain a healthy routine (e.g., exercise, proper diet) to prevent triggering these behavioral symptoms.
Lastly, you can always seek professional help from the expert caregivers of Alzheimer’s assisted living communities to manage these Alzheimer - induced changes.
Why You Must Know the Signs of Alzheimer’s
Here are the reasons why you should seek the best Alzheimer’s assisted living community for your loved one’s benefit.
So That You Can Put Their Safety First
Seniors with Alzheimer’s, even during its early stages, experience confusion and disorientation together with memory loss. This means that they might suddenly go out of the house without telling anyone, drive recklessly, or cross the street during a stoplight.
These things will keep on happening, especially if your loved one lacks 24/7 supervision--a problem that can easily be remedied by an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility.
Their Behavior can Drastically Change
During its late stages, your loved one might show behavioral and psychological symptoms that can be too challenging to handle. This includes:
- Aggressive behaviors like screaming and physical abuse
- Agitation and increased anxiousness
- Constant wandering and sleeping problems
- Delusions and hallucinations
Even if you have your loved one under your care, these behavioral changes can be addressed more appropriately in a memory care facility. They have professional and experienced caregivers that know how to prevent tantrums from happening.
Additionally, they offer specific therapy sessions to help seniors gradually overcome and get past these psychological hurdles.
Mental and Physical Health can Worsen
Memory loss can significantly affect your loved one’s ability to do their day-to-day living activities like showering, hygiene care, and preparing meals.
Moreover, seniors with Alzheimer’s will have difficulty keeping up with their doctor’s appointments and medication, which can drastically affect their health condition.
These unhealthy lifestyle activities can impact their overall physical health and result in:
- Rapid weight loss
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Decreased immune function
- Bruises, injuries, or fall accidents
- Increasing frailty
- Little to no social life
- Decreased self-esteem and self-confidence
To Prevent Caregiver Fatigue
Feeling physically and emotionally burned out does not make you a lousy family caregiver, but it is bound to happen sooner or later.
You are not born equipped to handle a challenging situation like this, making you vulnerable to caregiver or compassion fatigue in the long run. Caregiver fatigue or exhaustion is characterized by:
- Harboring negative feelings about what you’re doing.
- Decreased ability to give compassionate care.
- Reduced ability to empathize and understand the condition of your loved one.
This happens when you give your all in caring for your senior loved one, neglecting your own needs and well-being. Don’t let it progress to depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Stop it from ever happening by letting the professionals at a memory care community take over your caregiving responsibilities.