10 Characteristics of Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 5/19/2021 11:18 AM by Interim HealthCare
Filed under: alzheimer's, approach, care, dementia, positive, snow, teepa, to

There was a time not that long ago when elderly parents or grandparents were said to be suffering from senility. And, unfortunately, being “senile” took on a somewhat derogative meaning for many people.

However, while not commonly used any longer, the term “senile” is sometimes confused with dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. But Merriam-Webster states that senile simply means "relating to, exhibiting, or characteristic of, old age."

So, the strict use of the word senile simply refers to age.

In the medical world, senile is often combined with other terms, such as senile Alzheimer's, senile plaques, and senile dementia. Senile can also be used as a descriptor for other medical conditions such as senile arthritis or senile osteoporosis.

Simply put, “senile” in these cases refers to the older age in which the condition developed and is completely unrelated to the patient’s cognitive function.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

10 Characteristics of Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease

Dementia is not a stand-alone disease but is, instead, an umbrella term that includes a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Generally speaking, these disorders that are typically grouped under the general term “dementia” are caused by abnormal brain changes.

These changes trigger a decline in basic thinking skills, or cognitive abilities, that are severe enough to impair daily life and the ability to function independently. These changes in the brain can also affect behavior, feelings, and even relationships.

As the Alzheimer’s Association explains it,

“Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.”

There is a tendency in our culture to use the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s interchangeably. And, while this is not technically correct, it is understandable as Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases in the United States.

But what are the common characteristics, or warning signs, of Alzheimer’s and subsequent dementia?

10 Warning Signs of Dementia and Alzehimer’s Disease

According to the Alzheimer's Association, memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer's or some other cause of dementia. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. If you notice any of them, don't ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.

1. Memory Loss That Disrupts Daily Life

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same question repeatedly, or increasingly needing to rely on reminder notes, electronic devices, or family members for things the person used to handle on their own. 

2. Challenges in Planning or Problem Solving

Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. 

3. Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

People living with Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to complete routine tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favorite game. 

4. Confusion with Time or Place

People living with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there. 

5. Problems with Visual Images and Spatial Relationships

For some people, vision problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may also have problems judging distance and determining color or contrast, causing issues with driving. 

6. Problems with Words When Speaking or Writing

People living with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue, or repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have trouble naming a familiar object or use the wrong name. 

7. Misplacing Objects and Unable to Retrace Steps

A person living with Alzheimer’s may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. He or she may accuse others of stealing, especially as the disease progresses. 

8. Decreased or Poor Judgement

Individuals may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

9. Withdrawal from Work or Social Activities

A person living with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation. As a result, he or she may withdraw from hobbies, social activities or other engagements. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite team or activity.

10. Mood and Personality Changes

Individuals living with Alzheimer’s may experience mood and personality changes. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.

While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or ways to stop or slow its progression, there are drug and non-drug options that may help treat symptoms. Understanding available options can help individuals living with the disease and their caregivers to cope with symptoms and improve quality of life.

Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care (PAC)

One reputable, trusted, and proven method of dementia care training is the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) developed by Teepa Snow, a leading educator on dementia and care for dementia patients. Her dementia care philosophy is meant to put the person with dementia at the center of all care decisions, activities, and therapies.

A person-centered approach comes from a mindset of empathy, assistance, and openness. This type of approach encourages caregivers to place priority on the wellness, health, and happiness of the person with dementia instead of focusing on what that individual can no longer do as a result of their dementia.

We are proud of the fact that Interim Healthcare is an authorized provider of the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) methodology and we are practitioners of Teepa Snow's widely recognized and acclaimed program. We make it a priority to train our Alzheimer’s patient  in-home caregiver staff in PAC.

Interim HealthCare Can Help Create a Safe and Calm Environment for Your Loved One

Finding the right in-home care provider for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s in Sonoma County is an important decision. And it can be challenging to determine what is right for both you and your aging loved one.

With Interim HealthCare, however, you can be assured that we know what to look for to ensure that your senior parent or grandparent with dementia can remain safe in their own home.

If you or someone you know are in need of home care services, contact Interim HealthCare today.
At Interim HealthCare, we offer a wide variety of home care ranging from respite and assisted living at home, to Alzheimer's care, and much more.

To schedule your No-Obligation in-home evaluation, or to learn more about home care services, or to learn more about home care for Alzheimer's and Dementia patients in Sonoma County, select the red "Contact Us" tab to the right of this post or call our Santa Rosa office at (707) 545-4986.

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