Dementia: Recognizing Signs, and Intervening

 The Facts.

Alzheimer is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and with as many as 5.3 million people suffering from the disease. Many loved ones and caregivers are not properly educated to deal with all the signs of Alzheimer. Family members watch in dismay as loved ones act bizarrely, and sometimes become aggressive and even combative towards those around them. Due to this lack of education family members are are unable to understand the signs of worsening dementia. Consequently a patient’s issues will go untreated for long periods eventually affecting not only them, but their loved ones as well.

Many don’t know what steps to take when a patient’s mental health begins to deteriorate. Studies show that family members have a hard time realizing that their loved one’s mental health is deteriorating. Many only recognize that there is an issue once the loved one’s mental health has reached the point where they are in need of supportive resources including placement in skilled nursing facilities. Social workers, and advanced nurse practitioners have experience with how to properly deal with dementia. Unfortunately many cases are only referred to them once the patient’s mental health has become a serious issue. Caregivers also face obstacles as they are unable to refer, or request assessments from such individuals.

 

What can you do?

Lack of education one reason that family members don’t act faster, but it’s not the only reason. Physicians may be reluctant to diagnose a patient since dementia is such a broad diagnosis. This is why family members must be vigilant of any changes in a loved one’s condition. Communication between family members, and care givers is key in helping to fight dementia. Working with your caregiver can help ensure that your loved one receives the care they need in the early stages of dementia. Watch for changes in memory, or aggressive behaviors. Once loved ones begin to show signs of dementia such as getting lost, or falling down make an appointment to see their physician. Ask the physician to assess your loved ones as soon as possible.

That’s not the only thing you can do, if your family member has a social worker ask them for an assessment. If your family member is treated by a home health care agency reach out to them for assistance. At home make sure to keep hall ways, and floors clear of obstacles. Work to make the family member’s home a safe environment so the they may have little to no issues maneuvering about the home should they feel lost or confused.  Try your best to keep your loved one from wandering outside the home as they can get lost easily. Watch for any behaviors that are out of character as that might be a sign that something is wrong.

 

Remember you’re only human.

Above all else don’t ever feel that you caught things too late. Remember that you as a family member are trying your best. Caregivers know this, and are there to help you every step of the way. Caregivers really do care for their patients which is why they are going to come to you for help. Although it might be hard to hear we encourage you to listen to worries they might be having. Caregivers are trained to look for signs of dementia and see the patient less often. This means that care givers might be seeing something that you can’t see. Communication is key in helping to treat dementia.

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