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Senior Moments or Memory-Related Illness?

July 30, 2018

Did you know there are more than 50 million people around the world living with some type of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory-related illness?  These degenerative brain diseases affect some senior citizens in different ways causing symptoms such as forgetting simple things like words or names, losing the ability to balance a checkbook, neglecting personal hygiene, and encountering other interruptions in daily life.  As the disease progresses, so does the need for a greater level of daily care and support – for the patient and their families.

The Saybrook at Haddam works closely with the Alzheimer’s Association and other professionals to stay ahead of the curve regarding treatments, therapies, and care recommendations.  We are always fascinated by the amount of information the Alzheimer’s Association makes available to patients, families, and caregivers – and we try to share as much as we can with the people connected to our Safe Harbor memory care community.  This is important throughout most stages of the disease, but especially important at the beginning when families begin to suspect something more than “normal aging” is taking place.

The Alzheimer’s Association helps families recognize the difference between what is normal and what is a possible sign of the disease.  These can include:

  • Forgetting an appointment but remembering it later (normal) vs. forgetting it altogether even after asking for the appointment time and date over and over
  • Making occasional errors with a checkbook (normal) vs. not knowing how to deal with monthly bills and leaving them unpaid
  • Misplacing something and having to back track to find it (normal) vs. putting things in odd places or accusing people of stealing lost items

Understanding these important differences helps families determine if their loved one is simply facing a “senior moment” or maybe needs to seek an official diagnosis of the disease, preferably by a geriatrician.  These expert physicians will look at factors such as drug interactions and even dehydration which can cause Alzheimer’s-like symptoms to hopefully avoid false diagnoses.  However, if Alzheimer’s is suspected, a geriatrician has more  experience working with seniors to best direct families towards the most appropriate care plan.

Often, when Alzheimer’s is diagnosed (which can be in men as early as age 60 and in women as early as 70), many families become interested in understanding the brain more – a step that helps them better understand the changes taking place in their loved one.  The Alzheimer’s Association’s “Brain Tour” is an exceptional resource that explains how the brain works and how Alzheimer’s changes it by destroying nerve cells and tissue.

We know people can have signs of Alzheimer’s up to 20 years before they are diagnosed with the disease.  The mild-to-moderate stage can last anywhere from two to ten years with varying symptoms, and the severe stage can last one to five years.  Throughout each stage, patients need a tremendous amount of care and compassion – and our Safe Harbor memory care team is proud to walk by their side all the way.

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

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