Do I Have Dementia? By Connie Michaelis

While on a recent road trip to Colorado, my sister mentioned that she was worried about having some memory issues. As the conversation ensued, she said, “I’m terrified that I have early signs of dementia!” I’ve become familiar with these situations after spending much of my career working with seniors. Memory loss can happen to anyone. Many factors contribute, including lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and normal aging of the brain. 

Dementia-Memory Care Facilities and Senior Living Near Kansas City and Topeka

Our brains are like a computer; the older you are, the more information is stored. It may take longer to recall information. Nothing like a good night’s sleep for a reboot! Typical symptoms of normal memory loss are occasionally forgetting where you put something. You might forget an appointment or the details of a conversation, although you do remember having it. You may have ‘tip of the tongue‘ moments and what I call ‘word searching.’ All of this fits into the typical patterns of aging.

Mild Cognitive Impairment is not the same as Alzheimer’s. 

Beyond this typical brain aging experience may come what experts call Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI. It can be a precursor to dementia, but not necessarily. This condition does not interfere too much with everyday life. Individuals may learn to depend on notes and calendars for prompts. There certainly is an awareness that remembering things has become an issue. Symptoms are similar to those mentioned above but with greater frequency and intensity. It is certainly time to discuss these issues with your doctor. 

One of the positive signs of this memory issue is that you know you have it. If you’re asking others about your failure to remember things, you probably do not have a severe level of dementia.

Dementia is a broad term for many brain dysfunctions, including Alzheimer’s. It is essential to get proper medical attention. It can be a devastating diagnosis. The advanced symptoms that differentiate are increased disorientation to time and space that genuinely interfere with daily life activities.

The symptoms might include short-term memory loss, like forgetting that you’ve eaten breakfast. At the same time, you can remember things about the past, like where you went to grade school, etc. Forgetting medication can be one of the most dangerous aspects of dementia. Medication mismanagement can intensify cognitive failure. 

We often hear about a Silver Alert when an older adult may be lost. Disorientation is a frequent problem for people with dementia. Of course, one of the most common clues is that the person asks the same question repeatedly. At that point, it needs to be brought to the attention of a physician. Early detection can be helpful if medications are brought on early enough.  

Individuals who are diagnosed require continual help and support to carry out daily activities, and safety becomes a major issue. When caregivers are in jeopardy of their own health, it is time to locate a memory unit specifically designed to support dementia residents. The staff needs special training to care properly for these patients; they must be treated with respect and dignity. Memory units not only need to be secure but also have an atmosphere that is designed for their special needs. 

When David brought his dad, David Sr., to McCrite Plaza to talk about David’s mom, it was a tearful visit. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years before and lived at home with her husband’s support. David Sr. wanted to keep his wife at home and care for her, but he had already had a minor stroke, and the family was worried about his health. He expressed disappointment that he could no longer keep things ‘normal’ for his wife. They could no longer have friends over, and he was always trying to create a regular routine for her as they had enjoyed in the past. The staff explained that everything is considered ‘normal’ for the residents in a memory unit. No one is trying to fix things; they just go with the flow of the residents. The staff certainly didn’t care if their stories were accurate; everyone was just embraced where they were. They assured David Sr he would be able to visit his wife every day, and they could enjoy each other’s company without all the caregiving duties.” 

We hear so much about Alzheimer’s today that it is no mystery why we are concerned whenever we misplace our glasses. I assured my sis that I saw no signs of dementia, and her fixating on it and losing sleep over it would certainly not help! Anyone who thinks they have an issue should talk openly to family or a trusted friend for reassurance. 

McCrite Plaza Retirement Communities have strong support staff specially trained in memory care and dementia. Contact us today to learn more about memory-specific care options available at McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff in Kansas City or McCrite Plaza Topeka!

Call us in Briarcliff-Kansas City at (816) 888-7930 or (785) 267-2960 in Topeka, or complete the contact form to schedule a tour and see everything available for seniors needing quality, local memory care services.

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