An Alzheimer’s diagnosis changes everything

Jonathan Acton -

When a person you know or love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, everything changes. As a caregiver, you will likely struggle to understand the full impact of dementia; it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

With more than half of our clients living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, our home care service has evolved to provide specialist Alzheimer’s and dementia care expertise and advice. We not only help the person living with Alzheimer’s disease but also the families and friends who are struggling to understand the disease and care for their loved one at home.

What is dementia?

Dementia is the umbrella term for the variety of conditions that can cause the brain to fail. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes dementia as: "…a syndrome due to disease of the brain, usually of a chronic or progressive nature, of which there is impairment of multiple higher cortical functions…".

What the WHO definition means is that functions such as memory, orientation, comprehension, emotions and judgement may be affected in a person with dementia.

Warning Signs

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life The person’s short term memory is usually affected so one of the most common signs is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information such as names or recent events.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.

3. Difficulty in completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure People sometimes may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favourite game.

4. Confusion with time or place Losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. A person with dementia may become lost even in a familiar environment.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships For some people, having vision problems is a sign. They may not realise they are the person in the mirror, for instance.

6. Comprehension – New problems with words in speaking or writing There is trouble following or joining a conversation as the person may have difficulty understanding what it is you are trying to explain to them or what you are asking of them.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps Placing things in random unusual places. Sometimes the person may accuse others of stealing the items.

8. Decreased or poor judgement Experiencing changes in judgement or decision making. For example, a person with dementia may leave doors to an empty house unlocked.

9. Withdrawal from work or social interaction Some people with a dementia may remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or leisure pursuits.

10. Changes in mood and personality Very low tolerance to stress can occur in someone with dementia and they may therefore overreact to seemingly ordinary situations and misinterpret situations. Some can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, anxious, they may be easily upset at home, at work or with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

Home Instead, Marlinstown Office Park,Mullingar - 044 9385260