Signs your senior may need help
Social & Mental Health: Creating great memories

7 Signs You or Your Senior Needs Help

It’s a difficult topic to recognize when our super-aging seniors might need a little extra support. It's not always easy to admit that our loved ones need help, but being aware of the signs can make all the difference in ensuring their safety and well-being. 

Learning how to approach a vibrant loving senior is another story. See the FREE Caregiver’s Starter Guide for more information.

7 Quick Sign You Want to Watch For

But for now, let's dive in and discuss seven signs that might indicate it's time to lend a helping hand.

Forgetfulness Beyond the Usual: We all forget things from time to time, but when your senior starts forgetting important details like medication schedules, appointments, or even common everyday tasks, it could be a red flag. Keep an eye out for consistent forgetfulness that seems to be impacting their daily life. All our members keep a composition notebook nearby and start writing down date and what they see. 

Changes in Personal Hygiene: Personal hygiene is often a good indicator of overall health and well-being. If you notice your senior neglecting their personal hygiene, such as skipping showers, wearing the same clothes for days, smelling bad, or neglecting dental care, it could be a sign that they're struggling to take care of themselves independently. These symptoms can be part of bigger problems. See the Senior Freedom Club for more information. 

Difficulty with Mobility: As we age, it's natural for some mobility to decline to some extent. However, if you observe your senior having difficulty with basic movements like getting in and out of chairs, walking, or climbing stairs, it may be time to consider a conversation to see if there is pain or something else. 

Changes in Mood or Behavior: Pay attention to any noticeable changes in your senior's mood or behavior. Are they more withdrawn, irritable, or easily confused? These changes could indicate underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, or cognitive decline, all of which may require them to see a neurologist for a thorough exam. 

Unexplained Bruises or Injuries: Keep an eye out for unexplained bruises, burns, cuts, limping, or injuries, as these could be signs of falls or accidents that your senior may not be disclosing. I have lost count of the number of seniors who came into our urgent care with skin tears or cuts. When I asked them if they were going to disclose their visit to their adult children, they silently shook their heads “no”. 

Decline in Nutrition or Weight Loss: Changes in eating habits or unexplained weight loss can signal underlying health issues or difficulties with meal preparation. Monitor your senior's nutritional intake and observe whether they're maintaining a balanced diet. Check out their refrigerator.  See what snacks they have. Are they eating fruits and vegetables or processed crackers to fill up?

Neglecting Household Responsibilities: Is the house noticeably messier than usual? Are bills piling up, or are essential tasks like laundry and cleaning being neglected? Again, start documenting in your journal. Ask others if they are seeing these changes. 

Do not be afraid to approach your senior

Recognizing these signs early on can help you take proactive steps to ensure your super aging senior gets the support they need to thrive. Remember, offering to help is not a sign of their weakness but rather a testament to your commitment to keep them healthy.

If you've noticed any of these signs in your super-aging senior, it might be time to have a compassionate conversation about their needs and preferences regarding support and assistance. 

If you're ready to take the first step towards becoming a more confident and empowered caregiver, click the link below to download your Free Caregiver's Starter Guide today!

caregivers starter guide


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memory loss vs dementia
Social & Mental Health: Creating great memories

Memory Loss vs Dementia: A Guide for Seniors and Caregivers

Memory loss and cognitive decline are often associated with dementia, a condition that significantly impacts seniors' lives. However, it's crucial to recognize that memory issues can stem from various factors, including stress, depression, or anxiety. Seniors experiencing memory-related concerns should seek proper evaluation and support tailored to their specific needs.

Memory loss vs dementia

Distinguishing between dementia, depression, and anxiety is vital for seniors and their caregivers. Consulting a neurologist can help in accurately diagnosing dementia, ruling out other potential causes, and exploring suitable treatment options. Additionally, seniors may benefit from visiting a geriatric counselor to address underlying issues of depression or anxiety that could exacerbate memory-related challenges.

Seniors facing dementia encounter a unique set of struggles, characterized by frustration and anxiety stemming from the gradual loss of memory and cognitive function. The fear of forgetting cherished memories, important dates, or everyday tasks can lead to feelings of inadequacy and isolation. As memory lapses become more pronounced, seniors may experience heightened anxiety and distress.

In contrast, seniors dealing with depression, loneliness, or anxiety may experience memory lapses related to everyday forgetfulness. Misplacing items, forgetting recent interactions, or struggling to recall names are common occurrences. While these memory lapses may cause frustration, they typically do not represent the progressive decline associated with dementia.

For seniors diagnosed with dementia, providing cognitive stimulation, memory aids, and emotional support is crucial. Engaging in activities that challenge the mind, such as puzzles or memory games, can help maintain cognitive function and improve overall well-being. Memory aids, such as calendars or reminder apps, assist in organizing daily tasks and reducing stress associated with forgetfulness.

Emotional Health

Emotional support plays a significant role in alleviating the concerns of seniors with dementia. Encouraging meaningful social interactions, reminiscing about past experiences, and fostering a supportive environment can enhance their quality of life. Caregivers and family members should strive to be patient, understanding, and compassionate, acknowledging the challenges faced by seniors with dementia.

For seniors without dementia, addressing stress, depression, or anxiety is essential in managing memory-related concerns. Open communication, journaling, and spending time in self-reflection can help seniors process emotions and alleviate stress. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and mindfulness, such as meditation or gentle exercise, can also contribute to emotional well-being.

See Chapter 2 of the Super-Ager’s Starter Guide on more about keeping our physical mobility. See the 17 questions and the activities that lead super-agers to lead active vibrant lives.
Super Ager's starter guide

Moreover, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep, supports overall brain health and cognitive function. Seniors should prioritize self-care practices that enhance mental and emotional well-being, reducing the risk of memory-related issues associated with stress, depression, or anxiety.

Next Steps

Memory loss in seniors can indicate various underlying factors, including dementia, depression, or anxiety. Seeking appropriate evaluation and support is crucial in addressing these concerns and improving overall quality of life. Whether navigating the challenges of dementia or managing stress-related memory lapses, seniors benefit from personalized interventions that address their unique needs. By fostering a supportive environment and prioritizing emotional well-being, seniors can maintain cognitive function and lead fulfilling lives as they age.

Remember, it's never too late to seek help and support on the journey towards optimal brain health and well-being. Get your FREE Super-Ager's Startere Guide today. 

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Social & Mental Health: Creating great memories

Keeping Your Mind Unlocked: Are You at Risk for Dementia?

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, the biggest risk factor for dementia is aging. This means as a person gets older, their risk of developing dementia increases a lot. For people aged between 65 and 69, around 2 in every 100 people have dementia. A person's risk then increases as they age, roughly doubling every five years.

Can you slow down dementia if caught early? 

An early diagnosis – and access to the right services and support – can help people take control of their condition, plan for the future and live well with dementia.

Now let’s look at the 21 ways you can do something to lower your risk of dementia.

  1. Smoking - Good news! If you did, but now stopped, congratulations! If anyone in your family smokes, they need to do it outside and cover themselves while they smoke. My patients would use a jacket and hand it by the door when they came inside. This way they left smoke particles on their jacket and not in the whole house. Second-hand smoke is real. 
  2. Diabetes - Do you have it under control? There are many new medications and even more endocrinologists who will help you stay in the normal A1c range. Does your doctor do this for you?
  3. Physical inactivity - at least 3 times a week? We are not talking about a marathon here. We are talking about moving.  Whether it's walking, stretching, or mild yoga. Keep moving!
  4. Drinking alcohol - never or maybe 2 times a week one or two drinks tops! You can refuse alcohol. Just get a water with lemon. Nobody has a problem with you drinking healthy water. 
  5. Brain injury - have had all head injuries evaluated by a physician? Most of us have hit our heads either as a child or an adult. Discuss this with your doctor. 
  6. Hypertension - is it under control? This leads to heart failure but can also blood clots which lead to strokes. Get off the salt and keep this under control. 
  7. Obesity - Do you like your weight to be? Dieting is hard with all the fat foods pushed at us on every corner of the grocery store aisle. I stick to one food plan and eat the same thing every day.  I allow myself 4 times a week to go off this plan and lost 30+ pounds. 
  8. Hearing impairment - Has anyone ever told you the TV is too loud or I’m shouting? If they have, get your hearing checked. I like Costco and many of my elder patients start there for the hearing test. 
  9. Aging - I can’t help this but I can certainly super age!  See the FREE Super-Ager's Starter Guide for how to do this!
Super Ager's starter guide

10. Air pollutants - Do you air out my house at least once a month, especially in the basement? Air pollutants are the worst for allergies.

11. Depression - Are you on antidepressants and/or see a counselor every week?. Just make sure you are not one of those antidepressants that cause dementia. 

12. Atherosclerosis - Do you eat a healthy diet of protein, low fat, and no sugar unless it’s in fruits and vegetables?

13. Cholesterol - Do you skip the center of the grocery store full of processed food and go only around the outskirts of the store? 

14. Diet - Maybe get a food plan that works for you and practice portion control and do not fast because you know that slows down your metabolism and energy. 

15. Genes - You can’t help this but you do have to question how well your relatives take care of themselves.

16. Sleep - I get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and love, love, love my mattress. I wake with no pain because my mattress loves me, too! Can you say the same?

17. Cardiovascular risk factors - With diet and movement, stretching, do your doctor say you're in good shape for your age? 

18. Chronic diseases - Do you have any and are they well managed? That's the key here. 

19. Mild cognitive impairment - when we are under stress we all tend to lose things or forget things but we work on balancing our days so we have no stress. Is this something you can relate to?

20. Family history - You can’t help this. But we wonder if our families don't increase the risk of dementia by not taking care of themselves. Hmm. After all, how many of us still live with our parents or siblings? What do we know about their lifestyles?

21. Loneliness - Do we stay active and have lots of outings with my friends and family?  Even if I have nothing planned, just getting out to a store and talking to someone is more than enough to get us moving and stimulated. 

Remember, these are just general pointers. If you're concerned or have specific questions, it's always best to chat with a healthcare professional. If they don’t give you the answers you need, don’t give up.  Ask to be referred to a neurologist who will run all the necessary tests to confirm or reject a diagnosis of dementia.

When we catch dementia early so let's make lifestyle changes starting today! 

Another article you may like:  "Mastering Dementia Dialogues: Strategies for Different Stages"

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dementia stages
Social & Mental Health: Creating great memories

“Mastering Dementia Dialogues: Easy Strategies for Different Stages”

Dementia can be such a confusing disease because there are so many slow changes to the disease.

I've had patients who have recently been diagnosed with dementia and without spending much time with them I would not know that they even had that diagnosis.

Then I've had patients who are in the later stages of dementia and obviously you can tell that communication with them is difficult. 

The best approach is to ask the person to please tell you what they can and cannot understand if they're in their earlier stages and to let you know when they are confused or thinking before they can answer.

Many folks assume that when an older adult has not answered a question right away, they did not hear, but in truth they can be thinking about the answer and recalling the information they need before they can answer.

This assumption leads to hearing aids and misdiagnosis. It could really be the first stages of dementia.

I recently read an article, "The Do's and Don'ts of Dementia" and I found it to be misleading in that it didn't address the different stages of dementia. When communicating with anyone, it takes effort to figure out at what level you are speaking to them and if emotional strain is entering the picture. 

 The overall tips were good but they might insult the person in early stages of dementia well they would be very appropriate for those in the latter stages.

 So, let's look at the stages before we delve into the do's and don'ts of dementia.

 According to Alzheimer’s Association, there are 3 stages:

  • Early Stage (Mild): In this stage, individuals may experience mild cognitive decline, often unnoticed by friends and family. Memory lapses may occur, but daily functioning is generally intact. 
  • Middle Stage (Moderate): This stage is marked by more noticeable cognitive decline. Memory loss becomes more apparent, and individuals may have difficulty with tasks such as managing finances, remembering names and faces, and organizing thoughts. Behavioral changes, such as confusion and frustration, may also emerge.
  •  Late Stage (Severe): In the late stage, individuals experience significant cognitive decline and a profound impact on daily functioning. Basic self-care tasks become challenging, communication skills decline, and there may be a loss of awareness of time and place. Individuals in this stage often require assistance with activities of daily living.

But let’s get more specific:

For mild or early stages, common difficulties include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Difficulty planning and organizing
  • Coming up with the right word or name.
  • Confusion with time, place, dates, or events.
  • Remembering names when introduced to new people.
  • Having difficulty performing tasks in social or work settings.
  • Forgetting material that was just read.
  • Losing or misplacing a valuable object.
  • Mood or personality changes.
  • Becoming more anxious or irritable at things or people they used to enjoy.

 

NOTE: ⚠ Remember, any of the above things can occur when we are tired or overstressed.  We have all been guilty of the above actions without having dementia. 

 For Moderate or middle stages of dementia, you might see:

  •  Increased memory loss.
  • Being forgetful of events or personal history.
  • Feeling moody or withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations.
  • Being unable to recall information about themselves like their address or telephone number, and the high school or college they attended.
  • Experiencing confusion about where they are or what day it is.
  • Problems with recognizing objects and their use. 
  • Making decisions becomes more difficult.
  • Requiring help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion.
  • Wandering or even sundowning.
  • Having trouble controlling their bladder and bowels (incontinence).
  • Sleepless nights.
  • Demonstrating personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding.

This stage can last for years. It is important to have someone check in with this person every three months to see the changes as they can be quite subtle.  If you see this person on a daily basis, you may not notice the decline, but this 3-month visitor will.  Then you can make the necessary adjustments in medical care and communication.

 The third stage, severe or late stage has the following characteristics:

  • Profound memory loss.
  • Loss of language. They may still know their name or recognize music.
  • Loss of motor skills. You may need to feed, bathe, and attend to this person 24/7.
  • Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings.
  • May not recognize familiar people anymore. 
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Have difficulty communicating.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia.

In the late stages of dementia the care must be compassionate and comforting. It is a wise caregiver who recognizes this stage and enlists the help of a palliative care expert to guide them through their own self-care and safety of all.

If you or someone you care for has been diagnosed with any type of dementia, it is worthwhile to prepare for the losses before they arise.

For us seniors, we would be smart to jump on the communication bandwagon early.  By this I mean we can start conversation now.  I address this very thing in my new FREE guide, The Super Ager's Starter Guide. Look at the questions on page 12 - 13.  Let's clear any confusing conversation out of the way now so we won't have any later. 

senior starter guide at 65

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