It’s a difficult topic for anyone to think about, but if you suspect you or a loved one might be suffering from early memory loss, action is far better than inaction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 90% of Americans say that if they were exhibiting confusion and memory loss, they would want to know if the cause of the symptoms was Alzheimer’s disease. Yet more than half of those over age 45 with subjective cognitive decline have not talked with a healthcare provider about dementia-like symptoms.
It’s completely valid and understandable to experience fear and apprehension surrounding a potential diagnosis. However, by taking steps toward detecting and diagnosing memory loss early, you can gain peace of mind as you plan for the future and start any possible treatment. Detecting memory loss early can enable you to honor the wishes of family members as you all navigate the journey of a diagnosis of dementia.
Early stages of memory loss can look different in different people. The below list is a good starting point about determining if it may be time for a screening with a physician.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks
- Increasing confusion with time or place
- Trouble with vision or spatial orientation
- Problems with communication
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Changes in mood or personality
Remember, memory problems do not automatically indicate a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. There are types of memory loss that are part of aging. It is a necessary first step to work with a physician to find out if memory challenges are truly related to dementia in order to plan for the future.
Should your screening indicate an early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, you may feel sadness, anger, frustration or despair. The below guidance shows the benefits of this knowledge of early detection and will help individuals and their families as the disease progresses.
Early detection means you’re in a place to learn what is going to come next. While people with dementia can have vastly different types of disease and experiences, there are certain changes you can plan for and make decisions now about how you want your experience of living with dementia to progress. Trust your medical professionals to help you understand the progression of the disease and what may come next.
Research is being done constantly for various neurodegenerative diseases. With an early diagnosis, you can work with your physician to see what treatment options or clinical trials are currently available and if there are any medications that could be helpful in slowing disease progression. Treatments typically respond better in earlier stages of the disease.
Additionally, this would be an ideal time to make any positive lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, exercising, and staying socially active.
Being diagnosed with dementia can be incredibly overwhelming for the individual and family alike. Fortunately, there are copious resources available for education and encouragement as you navigate this new territory. Maybe that means joining a support group, being more intentional about documenting memories and sharing stories, or even taking that “bucket list” trip. Perhaps it means sharing the diagnosis with friends and family on your own terms, before changes start to happen in your life.
Many people have walked in your shoes before – lean on the experience of others and the many resources available to help guide you. If you are looking for resources and support, the Senior Advisor at our community would be happy to share more about our monthly educational sessions and support groups held on Zoom, as well as other community services that can help you in your journey.
Early diagnosis allows for the individual to discuss their wishes for each stage of the disease. They can be part of the legal, financial and end-of-life decision-making; designating powers of attorney; creating a living will; and indicating medical care preferences. These important conversations ultimately reduce the weight on family members and allow them to plan for the quality of life desired for their loved one.
In your conversations, you might decide that caring for your loved one at home would be too difficult, so it’s a good idea to research your options together. Many senior living communities, like Waterstone on High Ridge, provide services to ensure your loved one is cared for during every step of their journey. Our expert memory care at Waterstone on High Ridge is supported by the experts at Bridges by EPOCH and features dedicated support and unique programs within a thoughtfully designed household. To learn more about the benefits of early detection, or to schedule a visit to experience our lifestyle, contact us today.
Waterstone on High Ridge offers a modern approach to senior living in a beautiful hilltop setting. Come see how we redefine independent living, assisted living and memory care in Fairfield County, just minutes away from fine restaurants, retail stores and cultural venues in Stamford and Greenwich.