Early Signs of Dementia For Family Caregivers to Watch For

This article is primarily about Alzheimer’s but applies to all forms of dementia.

For those of us with alcoholic family members these warning signs can apply to Wernicke –  Korsakoff. If caught early enough, there are things that can be done to stall the damage being done to the alcoholics brain.

Catching it EARLY is key.

Peace,  Jen

Early Signs of Dementia For Family Caregivers to Watch For.

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Early Signs of Dementia For Family Caregivers to Watch For

Early signs of dementia, here are some tips for a successful approach to providing care.

The first of the three stages of dementia may present with memory problems that the individual is able to hide. Other signs of dementia may exhibit as depression, lack of interest or initiative in some individuals, or in other words the inability to carry out plans. Still others may begin to have some personality changes and begin to have difficulty with expressing emotions.

Being aware of the early signs of dementia and seeking early treatment may prolong the early stage of this disease. At the present time, there is no cure for the progressive dementias, such as Alzheimer’s. The present treatment for this disease is medication, nutrition and behavioral approaches.

Medications will assist with some of the irritability, anxiety and restlessness that many individuals with dementia experience. The most successful approach to providing care for the individual is through interpersonal communication. This is not an easy task, as by the time the diagnosis of dementia is given, the brain has already begun to deteriorate.

Communication is difficult not only for the caregivers, but for the individual with this diagnosis. They are having difficulty remembering any information. They have little to no ability to store any new information and minimal ability to quickly retrieve and respond to a situation in a timely fashion. This causes frustration, restlessness, an increase in anxiety and anger, in some individuals. Negative and unwanted behaviors, often displayed by the individual with dementia, are out of anger, frustration and restlessness. There is still an awareness of their inabilities to communicate and understand everything.

This awareness causes frustration and confusion and often results in acting out behaviors.

Early Signs of Dementia for Family Caregivers. Tips for a Successful Approach to Providing Care.

There are several different things a person with this new diagnosis and family caregivers should implement in to their lives. Research now shows, that brain fitness and physical fitness, promote new connections to form in the brain. So a brisk walk, daily, and utilizing a brain fitness program or even playing card games will be vital to promoting and maintaining well being. These activities can decrease the risk for insomnia, anxiety, depression and negative behaviors.

Good nutrition, such as a heart healthy diet is important. High in dark green leafy vegetables, fish, whole grains and fruit this is also a brain healthy diet!

Sensory impairment increases the chances of negative behaviors and feelings of depression. It is important to allow an individual time to see, hear, taste and touch. It is important that they have proper fitting teeth, hearing aides in and working, or eye glasses to see.

Patience and compassion are the keys to creating positive emotions in an individual suffering from dementia. It is important for the caregiver to focus on what the individual can do at this given moment versus what they are no longer able to do. Once a function is lost, it will not come back. As difficult as it is, you should never say “no.” You cannot change the behaviors of the individual but you can alter their response. It is very important as a caregiver not to create an adversarial relationship with the individual for whom you are providing care. The goal of every interaction is to try and create a positive emotional response.

This approach takes a great deal of personal growth on the part of the caregiver. Your goal is to try to understand what the behaviors are trying to tell you. Every behavior is a form of communication. If you realize that the individual is getting upset or frustrated, try and figure out what is causing this frustration. Try taking a positive approach and suggesting another activity. Another approach is to ask questions about the topic they are focusing on. You can divert or distract them into another activity and help to give them a positive feeling instead of anger and frustration.

Being aware of the early signs of dementia are vital to an early diagnosis and treatment. Taking a proactive approach to learning as much as you can about the type of dementia will assist the family caregivers to prepare for the future care needs. Learning the tools to focus on the individual’s strengths, will promote a better quality of life.

~ by Step On a Crack on January 30, 2012.

6 Responses to “Early Signs of Dementia For Family Caregivers to Watch For”

  1. There is so much fear associated with this. None of us really want to know this diagnosis because there is no turning back. It’s a progressive disease but as the article states, much can be done to help all involved if diagnosed early. I would add, if possible, a geriatric doctor can be helpful too. Sometimes, the family Dr. may miss some things. The one with dementia, in the earlier stages, are masters as disguise and “playing it off”. I applaud you for the action you put behind your words. Thank you, thank you!


    • GOOD Point! A geriatric doc was the one who called my mom out on her drinking and made the call. You are SO right. My husbands grandfather had Alzheimers and it was so painful in the early years when he knew he had dementia, he knew what was coming, and he had to move day to day. Eventually he reached a fairly calm place and was there in his mind until he died. My husbands step grandmother cared for him at home until the day he died. Watching her pain in the final years was heartbreaking.

      Alcoholics Dementia is a different animal BUT the caretaking is the same; hard.

      Thank you for making the comment. I am working to put together more info about Wernicke Korsakoff and the dangers of alcoholism now. WK is so under diagnosed it is hard to find info.

      Blog For Mental Health 2012…. I am going to take that pledge seriously…

      XO Jen


  2. I think my cousin Mike has Wernicke – Korsakoff, Jen. I haven’t seen him for years, but my father told me he was diagnosed with Altzheimers, early onset. He is a wonderful and talented man, but has been a drunk for a long time. He went to the U of I, was a music major, plays french horn (hard instrument) … but he was in and out of AA, and it didn’t click for him. I’m wondering about him and PRAYING it’s not Wernicke – Korsakoff. My dad’s got a little dementia now: He’s 89 God Bless him. He’s always been spacey, and that’s why we love each other. Different folks. Dementia is a hard thing to watch. Sometimes i break into tears just seeing that vacant look on the faces of those suffering. Thanks for sharing this. Love m


    • MEL! I think I missed this! I am SO sorry

      If I did HEY there are things to do to slow the dementia!!!! Thiamine therapy etc etc. I am working on a post that details all of it.
      email me ok??

      Love Jen


  3. […] Early Signs of Dementia For Family Caregivers to Watch For (steponacrack.wordpress.com) […]


  4. Thanks for this, Jen. May we all put it to good use.


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