When my Dad was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s . I was in denial. He did not fit the stereotypes I had heard and seen. He was not angry. He was still fun to be around. But he was:
- No longer able to live alone
- No longer able to manage his finances
- No longer able to manage his medications
- Not able to answer simple questions
- Not able to manage his personal hygiene
- Not seeing well
- Not able to drive a car
So why did I not see it right away? Because it was personal. Because I had never walked that road with a family member. Because it hit too close to home. (Could it happen to me?) And there was one other factor, my Mom was protecting him, so for a while I did not know how much she was compensating.
Some seniors are experiencing very normal aging, but will have some symptoms that may indicate a problem. These may be simple to remedy.
Dehydration: Seniors who don’t get enough fluids may become disoriented and confused. Some don’t want to drink water at night for fear of incontinence, so their fluid intake should be monitored. Not getting enough water can lead to constipation and cramping of muscles.
Infection: A UTI (urinary tract infection) can cause dizziness and confusion. If treated promptly the individual may quickly return to normal.
Medication change: Any change in medication may cause weird symptoms.
Vision/hearing changes: Not being able to see or hear well can contribute to safety issues in the kitchen and behind the wheel of the car.
Have your senior loved one see a doctor if anything unusual happens with their behavior. They are more likely to listen to the doctor than to family. I learned not to take that personally.
If you have a senior family member who may have dementia, you can take them to a doctor for a memory test. You may also invite a geriatric-trained registered nurse to come for a home visit. This objective professional can not only help evaluate the level of care needed, they can be a good resource for questions that will arise once you know changes need to happen.
I am not a medical professional. These are just some things I know may happen since I have walked the dementia road with my Dad.