As your family members and loved ones age, you may notice them having increasing struggles with daily self-care and household tasks. When their ability to deal with daily tasks declines, you may want to start looking for an independent living facility that offers necessary daily support. This is particularly true if your loved one is showing signs of dementia. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're evaluating your loved one's care needs.
It's Not Just Memory
Many people immediately connect forgetfulness to dementia. The truth is, there is some degree of memory struggle that naturally comes with getting older. The key is telling the difference between natural aging issues and the onset of dementia. If your loved one is experiencing occasional issues with forgetfulness that isn't interfering with safety or daily care, there shouldn't be much to worry about. If, on the other hand, he or she is also showing signs of reasoning, focus, logic or communication problems, you should start thinking about the possibility of supportive care.
The Changes Can Be Subtle
When it comes to dementia signs, the early indicators are often hard to detect because they're subtle. You may notice that your loved one has no problem remembering things that happened many years ago, but can't seem to recall a conversation from yesterday.
Short-term memory (the things that happened recently) is often affected before the long-term memory (the things that happened years ago), so while forgetting yesterday's discussion may not seem like a big deal, it's a serious cause for concern.
The loss of short-term memory often happens because the brain's neural pathways that transmit information from short-term memory to long-term memory stop working. This prevents the brain from storing those memories.
Sometimes Personality Speaks Volumes
When dementia starts to set in, you'll likely notice some changes in your loved one's personality and ability to form consistent judgement. You may even start to see aggression, anger, sadness and frustration. These are signs of depression that tend to follow dementia. If you're seeing changes in personality and behavior, that's a good indication of issues with dementia.
Repetition Can Be Concerning
If you notice that your loved one is repeating the same question several times or telling the same stories repeatedly, that's often a sign of short-term memory loss or dementia. The problem often occurs because he or she isn't able to retain the information you've provided or doesn't recall already telling the story. When the neural pathways that communicate between the long-term and short-term memory stop functioning, this type of confusion occurs.
Motor Skill Impairment Can Mean Trouble
Motor skill declines are normal with age, particularly for people with arthritis and other physical conditions. If the motor skill issues seem more severe than you'd expect for normal arthritis and coordination issues or there's marked issues with one side of the body as compared to the other, that's a sign that your loved one may have suffered a stroke or has other severe dementia problems.
There May Be Other Neurological Issues
If your family member has been diagnosed with a neurological issue like Parkinson's, you may find that you need a supportive living facility even if you aren't seeing signs of dementia. Be realistic about your loved one's condition and understand that conditions like this have a natural progression, so struggles that he or she is facing now aren't likely to get better.
Supportive independent senior housing facilities provide the necessary care while allowing your loved one to maintain some independence for as long as possible. You'll just want to be sure that you choose a facility equipped to deal with the additional neurological concerns.