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What Happens When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer's?

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What Happens When Your Loved One Has Alzheimer's?

Deciding on a senior living community to care for your parents or parent is never an easy decision. But when you keep in mind what living arrangements are best for your mother or father and consider that the staff at Park Regency assisted living in Loveland, CO, is able to take care of the social, spiritual and physical health of your loved one, the answer may be a bit more clear.

But the waters get a bit muddier when you suspect your loved one has Alzheimer's or another memory disorder, and you need to find a senior living community that can meet their specific needs. Find out more about Alzheimer's and how an assisted living community can help.

What Is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia, which is a general group of conditions characterized by memory loss and impaired judgement. Alzheimer's causes problems with behavior, memory and thinking, and it accounts for between 60-80% of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Typically, but not always, symptoms develop slowly and then get worse over time, and many times, Alzheimer's disease becomes so severe it interferes with everyday tasks.

It's important to understand that Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging. While some people may get a bit more forgetful as they get older or have trouble remembering details of past events, Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease of the brain.

What Are Some Early Signs of Alzheimer's?

The Alzheimer's Association notes that a common early symptom of Alzheimer's is having difficulty remembering newly learned information. This is a common symptom because changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer's typically start in the part of the brain that affects learning, which is the cerebrum.

The cerebrum also controls your ability to read, think, speak, see, hear, feel emotions and engage in planned muscle movements, such as walking or running.

Other early signs of Alzheimer's include:

  • Challenges with planning or problem solving
  • Confusion with place or time
  • Sudden changes in mood or personality
  • Memory loss at the level that it disrupts daily life
  • New difficulties with communication

What You Can Do if You're Concerned a Loved One Has Alzheimer's

Watching your parents age can be challenging enough, and when dementia symptoms seem to appear, it can be very upsetting. However, you do have plenty of options when it comes to addressing your concerns.

Talk to Your Loved One Directly

If possible, talk to your parent directly about their symptoms. If you choose to talk to your mom or dad, try to do it in the earliest stages possible while cognitive functioning is still high. Make sure to voice your concerns gently and emphasize that you're coming from a place of love — offer your support and make it clear you'll be with them every step of the way. Using "I" statements is a great way to express your feelings directly without making the other person feel defensive.

Conversation Starter Example

"I'm a little worried about you, Mom. I'm wondering how you're doing and feeling. I've noticed lately you've had a harder time remembering things than you usually do, have you noticed this too?"

In the first conversation, it's probably best to avoid mentioning Alzheimer's altogether and instead focus on how you're feeling about how they're doing and whether they see things the same way.

Talk to Close Family Members or Friends

Ask siblings, aunts, cousins or other relatives that have regular contact with your mom or dad, and find out if they've noticed the same things you have. It's important to do this in a confidential manner to avoid hurt or embarrassment.

When you collaborate with other loved ones, you may be able to work together to come up with a plan for talking to them or deciding what the next steps are.

Discuss Symptoms With a Doctor

Regardless of whether or not your loved one actually is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, if you're concerned about symptoms, it's important to encourage them to discuss issues with their physician.

Your loved one's doctor can make an accurate assessment and eventual diagnosis based on a number of factors. Many things besides Alzheimer's disease can affect memory and judgement, including:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Thyroid problems
  • Medication interactions

When a doctor can evaluate your loved one's symptoms, proper treatment can be provided.

Some communities may even have visiting physicians who make home visits, which is a great option for loved ones who are resistant to going to the doctor.

How an Assisted Living Community Can Help

At the Park Regency assisted living community in Loveland, we offer a supportive, faith-based community for our residents as they transition into a new phase of life. We provide personalized care and multiple daily activities to engage residents socially, spiritually and physically.

 Our Health Services Director meets with new residents and their families upon admission and develops an individualized care plan to meet residents' needs and preferences. And as residents' needs change and evolve over time, our compassionate staff can adjust care plans based on input from the resident as well as family members and physicians.

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