IT MAY NOT BE WHAT IT SEEMS: DON’T ASSUME A CONFUSED ELDER HAS ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
When someone appears to be so confused that they need assistance with daily activities don’t automatically assume that it is Alzheimer’s disease. There are many other causes of dementia. Dementia is a general term of symptoms applied to several diseases or medical conditions. These symptoms could include a change in an individual’s orientation, ability to remember, reasoning, and judgment. The ability to learn new information, personality, language skills, and a person’s perception can also be affected. There are a number of diseases that can have dementia symptoms including depression, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Huntington’s disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common. There are also medical conditions that can cause dementia symptoms. Among them are medications, infections, dehydration, poor appetite, fluctuating blood sugar, thyroid dysfunction, loss of hearing or sight, and head injuries.
Many of these conditions can be treated. Encourage your friends or family members to schedule a doctor’s appointment. A thorough diagnostic workup is important to determine the causes of the dementia symptoms. The longer treatable medical conditions go unrecognized the more difficult it is to treat them. If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease, there is medical, legal, and financial planning that should be initiated immediately. The manner in which you communicate with the person with dementia symptoms is also very important to their well-being.
The following suggestions will promote effective communication: Treat the confused person as an adult and with respect, approach in a calm manner, do not argue, confront or correct, maintain eye contact when talking with the person, keep all directions simple, speak slowly, clearly and use short sentences, do not talk about the person in front of them as if they were not there, and be patient - a person with dementia may take longer to perform daily activities.
From Kansas Advocates for Better Care, Kansas Senior Press Service.
ALZHEIMER'S/DEMENTIA CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUPS
Fourth Tuesday of Each Month
Carroll County Senior Center
449 Training Center Road
Hillsville, VA 24343
Fourth Thursday of Each Month
District Three Senior Services
4453 Lee Highway
Marion, VA 24354
First Thursday of Each Month
Commonwealth Assisted Living at Abingdon
860 Wolf Creek Trail, NW
Abingdon, VA 24210
Second Wednesday of Each Month
English Meadows Senior Living Community
(near Johnston Memorial Hospital)
15089 Harmony Hills Lane
Abingdon, VA 24211
Third Monday of Each Month
Pleasant View Methodist Church
(across from Highlands Airport on Lee Hwy)
Abingdon, VA 24210
Third Thursday of Each Month
Administration Building (Small Conference Room)
990 Holston Road
Wytheville, VA 24382