One of the primary questions in most people’s minds when a senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is precisely what to expect in the weeks, months, and years to come. We know that the unmistakable signs of dementia are the gradual decline in cognitive abilities and also the skills necessary to manage day-to-day life. Yet, each person progresses through these changes in a different way. There are a variety of factors that may influence the rate of decline, such as:
- Prescription drugs a senior loved one is taking
- General health and physical makeup
- The circle of support available
- The individual’s general emotional wellbeing and resilience
There are also other determinants to factor in based upon the type of dementia diagnosed. For instance:
- MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment): Mild cognitive impairment impacts up to twenty percent of older adults. More than the normal minor cognitive decline experienced in aging, MCI involves problems with language, thinking, judgment, and memory that are apparent to the older adult individually and frequently to others as well. Researchers found that about 38% of older adults with MCI later developed dementia. The other 62% never progressed further than MCI – and in some instances, their condition actually improved, for unknown reasons. Signs of MCI include forgetfulness, impulsiveness, depression, anxiety, apathy, irritability and aggression, and others.
- Vascular Dementia: Because vascular dementia is a result of a blockage in blood flow to the brain, the type of blockage will impact the development of the disease. If small blood vessels are blocked, for instance, the decline is typically gradual. Major blood vessel blockage may cause a sudden onset of symptoms, followed by intense periods of change thereafter.
- Lewy Body Dementia: Progression of Lewy body dementia can be gradual, but could also include widely varying degrees of alertness and attention in the early stages. One day may find the senior lucid, while the next day – or even several hours later – could bring hallucinations, confusion, and memory loss. In the later stages of the disease, agitation, restlessness, aggression, tremors, and stiffness become more common.
- Frontotemporal Dementia: Unlike other forms of dementia, short-term memory is normally not impacted during the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. Instead, early symptoms include behavioral changes, such as distraction, rudeness, apathy, and disregard for social norms. As the disease progresses, difficulties with language become noticeable as well, in addition to memory loss, vision problems, and other typical symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Contact the dementia care team at Atlanta Home Care Partners for more informative resources to help you better understand and care for someone you love with Alzheimer’s disease. We’re also always here to help with creative, compassionate care in order to make life more rewarding for a family member with Alzheimer’s, and also to help family members achieve an improved life balance. For more information on how Atlanta Home Care Partners provides Alzheimer’s care in Atlanta and the surrounding communities, contact us at 404-228-0103.