How to Identify Alzheimer’s and Dementia in Your Loved One

Dementia is a generalized term for a mental decline which is severe enough to interfere with daily life.

It impairs mental functions such as memory, thinking, and reasoning.

Understanding that your loved one may have a form of dementia can be a difficult and trying time. While there is no single test that can diagnose a person, it’s vital to identify and become aware of the symptoms attributed to dementia. There are various cases of dementia and on average, Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases, while Vascular dementia (which occurs after a stroke) is the second most common form.

10 Early Warning Signs

Dementia can manifest differently in each person effected and symptoms can vary greatly. The Alzheimer’s Association, the leading advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia, lists the ten early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s as:
  • 1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • 2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • 3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or during leisure
  • 4. Confusion with time or place
  • 5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • 6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • 7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • 8. Decreased or poor judgment
  • 9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • 10. Changes in mood and personality
Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's
While many people experience memory loss issues in aging, this does not necessarily mean that they have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Once symptoms have been identified as possible dementia, it’s necessary to go through a careful medical evaluation from a licensed doctor. Encouraging your loved one to seek medical help may be difficult but it’s crucial to diagnosis. Doctors can diagnose dementia and Alzheimer’s through a careful look at medical history, physical examination, neurological exam, laboratory tests, everyday behavior, and function.

Once successfully evaluated, Doctors can determine that a person has dementia with a high level of certainty. It’s hard to determine the exact type of dementia because the symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap. In some cases, a doctor may diagnose “dementia” and not specify a type. In this case, it may be necessary to see a specialist such as a neurologist or gero-psychologist.
  • According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are seven stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Stage 1 No Impairment
  • Stage 2 Very Mild Decline, Normal age-related changes or early signs of Alzheimer’s
  • Stage 3 Mild Decline, Friends and Family begin to notice difficulties in memory or concentration. Noticeable problems coming up with the right name or word.
  • Stage 4 Moderate Cognitive Decline – Able to detect clear cut symptoms. Forgetfulness of recent events.
  • Stage 5 Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline – Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable, need help with daily activities. Unable to recall their address or high school they attended.
  • Stage 6 Severe Cognitive Decline – Personality changes, require extensive help with daily activities. Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as their surroundings.
  • Stage 7 Very Severe Cognitive – Individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, carry a conversation or control their movement.
Heart Disease deaths -11%, Alzheimer's Disease deaths +123%
1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's
2/3 dementia patients are women

Part 2A: Create an action plan for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s

What is Memory Care? Memory Care is a specialized, secure care for those with varying degrees of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. In-home care may not accommodate the special needs of those with memory loss while a licensed memory care facility will provide around the clock staff in a secure environment. Memory Care focuses on slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia through specialized programs. Often times it’s difficult to find a memory care facility in your local area with your loved one’s best interest. We’re proud to provide a Memory Care Resource Guide with informative articles and facts on Identifying Alzheimer’s, an Action Plan for Living with Alzheimer’s, a Transition Checklist, and Life with Alzheimer’s.

Senior Living Communities offers an unparalleled lifestyle for seniors with assisted living needs.