The Early Stages of Dementia: What to Watch For and How to Help

Do you have a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s (Dementia)? If so, NEVER FORGET, you are not alone! Over 5.3 million people were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015.

It’s important to understand there are 3 stages in the ongoing process of this disease—Early, Middle and Late Stage.  We’ll focus, in today’s post, on the EARLY STAGE.

What are the warning signs to watch for in the EARLY STAGE?
Dementia causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. However, just as our loved ones are unique, their symptoms maybe different for each individual. Quite often, the warning signs of the EARLY STAGE are missed entirely. Much of what we see may feel normal and expected in the aging process.

Here are helpful ways to identify and differentiate between normal age-related symptoms and Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Dementia or Alzheimer’s Symptoms Normal Age Related Aging
Poor judgment and decision making Making a bad decision occasionally
Inability to manage a budget Missing a monthly payment
Lose track of the month or season Forget what day it is but remember later
Difficulty having a conversation Sometimes forgetting a word to use
Misplacing things and unable to retrace steps to find them Lose things from time to time

What is happening to your loved one in the EARLY STAGE?

  1. A slowing down for processing information
  2. An increase in stress and fatigue.
  3. The physical aging process continues normally.
  4. Likes and dislikes remain the same.

What can you do for your loved one in the EARLY STAGE?
First and foremost, be vigilant. Vigilance extends beyond observing the early signs of dementia. Once, dementia is diagnosed, it is vital to ensure your loved one maintains an active lifestyle. This will not only enhance their quality of life but help reduce the behaviors associated with Dementia.

Help ensure they eat a healthy diet, limit their alcohol intake, and help them stay physically active. Focus on enjoyment, not achievement to reduce their frustration over declining skills. Whether it is walking, dancing (sequencing) or yoga (can be seated), all of these can be incorporated as part of their daily physical routine. It’s also extremely important to help them stay mentally active by keeping involved in brain games such as Dominoes (matching) crossword puzzles, Scrabble and any other word games or card games.

These are just a few suggestions. Remember, your loved one is unique! Some people enjoy watching sports while others may enjoy playing music on their favorite musical instrument. You may have more and better ideas. Focus on what keeps them vibrant and content. Then, remember you are not alone, so, share your ideas with others!

“Growing older is merely a matter of feeling your corns rather than your oats.”

Susan Easton, RN
Dementia Specialist

%d bloggers like this: