Alzheimer’s 10 Warning Signs

This year’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month’s theme centres around the 10 warning signs of Dementia and the importance of an early diagnosis. The World Alzheimer Report 2021 has highlighted that 75% of people with dementia globally are undiagnosed, equating to 41 million people.

In Ireland 64,000 people are currently living with Dementia. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland reported that figure is expected to double to over 150,000 in 25 years, 2045. With 30 people diagnosed each day with dementia, 11,000 new cases a year, it is important to highlight the key warning signs and symptoms to allow for an early diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of Dementia, linked to over half of reported cases. It’s a result of a build-up of protein in the brain (amyloid) that forms plagues surrounding the brain cells, impairing the functionality of the brain.  

Dementia Umbrella Description

An early diagnosis allows you and your circles of care to plan for the future, maximise your quality of life, access resources, support and information and develop a treatment plan. At present there is unfortunately no cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia however an early diagnosis can slow and, in some cases, stop the progression of the disease, allowing for an extended quality of life.

While there is no one size fits all when looking at the symptoms of a person presenting with dementia as they can be unique to that individual and the type of dementia, the following are the 10 most common warning signs.

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Problems with language
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Problems keeping track of things
  • Misplacing things
  • Changes in mood and behaviour
  • Trouble with images and spatial relationships
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
Alzheimer's and Dementia warning signs

1. Memory Loss

Lapses in our memory can be common, especially as we age. Memory loss becomes a cause for concern when a person is unable to remember people, conversations or things that may have happened recently.

A persistent decline in short-term memory can result in the inability to organise thoughts and language issues such as difficulty in finding the right word. Identifying family members, places and objects may also become more challenging.

2. Problems with Language

This decline can also lead to repetition of a story or questions numerous times without realising it. Many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia suffer from Aphasia, the inability to comprehend and formulate language, making conversations difficult to conduct or follow.

Short-term memory loss is the first symptom people associate with dementia however it is not always the first warning sing.

3. Difficulty in performing familiar tasks

Difficulty in performing familiar tasks is an indication a person may be suffering with Alzheimer’s and dementia. This can range from tasks which require planning and multiple steps such as cooking to basic tasks like bathing or dressing incorrectly, i.e., clothing on backwards or in the wrong order.

4. Disorientation with time and place

Disorientation with time and place are linked to a decline in memory. Keeping track of what date/month/season are key warning signs. Sometimes the person may forget where they are or how they got to a certain place, even if it is a familiar place to them.

5. Poor or decreased judgement

Major changes in judgement or decision making such as uncharacteristic behaviour in social situations, managing money poorly or trouble looking after themselves are subtle but important symptoms to note.

6. Problems keeping track of things

Keeping track of monthly bills, working with numbers, spending money frivolously and being uncharacteristically generous be early indicators of Alzheimer’s and dementia as these tasks require a lot of abstract thinking.

7. Misplacing things

Misplacing things is another common trait that many of us may have in our day-to-day life. A person presenting with Alzheimer’s and dementia however may misplace items in strange or unusual places and be unable to retrace their steps because of disorientation.  

8. Changes in mood and behaviour

Irritability and rapid mood swings are key changes in behaviour linked with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The person suffering can become confused as a result of other symptoms, causing them to become emotional, lash out and even depressed. It is important to remember that a person suffering still has emotions but a reduced capacity to communicate. They may be in pain or discomfort and unable to accurately express this.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities

These behavioural changes may lead to a withdrawal from the usual social interaction or even work as they begin to experience some lapses in memory. Many behaviour changes will result in a more sedentary life, sitting in front of the TV for hours or sleeping more often.

10. Trouble with images and spatial relationships

Whilst many people will notice a change in vision as they age, people with dementia can develop issues with determining colour, seeing objects in three dimensions or problems judging distance. Spatial awareness can decrease leading to a lack or balance, spilling food or drinks more often and tripping over more.

If you are someone you are worried about is presenting any symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia, it is important to consult your GP for further advice and referral.

Alzheimer's Symptoms and warning signs

Tackling Loneliness Among the Elderly

Tackling Loneliness Among the Elderly 

Elderly People in Ireland

In Ireland, 60% of elderly people aged 80 and over live alone and 1/3 of people aged 65 and over are living on their own. These numbers will likely climb as families are getting smaller, divorces etc. We may be living longer but we still age and as our mobility decreases we need looking after.

Causes of Loneliness 

Loneliness in older people can caused for a number of reasons – bereavement, location, finance, health etc.

The Effects of Loneliness 

Loneliness affects the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people. It is not just an emotion, it is a chronic condition and can have devastating health consequences among our older generation. According to health figures, it is believed to be twice as damaging to a persons health as obesity and it has the same affect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Being lonely also makes the elderly a lot more susceptible to dementia and cardiovascular disease. Limited social interaction also means likelihood of less going out or exercising outdoors and lack of exercise has many side effects such as low mood and depression.

What can we do?

As younger people can lose their patience with the elderly, this leaves them feeling like they are a burden and it prohibits them to ask for help. We need to reassure our elderly relatives/friends that they should not be afraid to ask for our help and that they are more than deserving of our support.

Check in with the older people in the community, make a phone call to an elderly relative, you would be surprised at how much your company can make their day. A little bit of light is all it takes to brighten someones day.

Tips and Actions for Helping Elderly People Alleviate Loneliness 

  • Listen – Listening is something we don’t do enough, even for the people we love. Listening to someone who is feeling lonely will make them feel special and cared for and like what they are saying really matters.
  • Social inclusion – Help them get involved in socializing by helping them sign up for elderly groups that have activities and days out. You could even go along with them so as they are not on their own.
  • Teach – One of the best classrooms is at the feet of an elderly person so let them teach you what they know and share stories of the past. This sort of thinking is good for the elderly persons brain, it will give them a sense of importance and you can learn a lot from their wisdom.

50% of Nursing Home Residents Could Stay at Home

The quality of life for the senior members of society has always been a topic of conversation throughout Ireland and is regularly in the national spotlight though media coverage.

Research published on ageaction.ie suggests that there is an increased need for home helps as waiting lists continue to grow and home care packages are increasing in popularity. Social workers estimate that 50% of those who are nursing home residents could live at home.

Evidence from the research confirms that the elderly and those suffering lifelong illnesses want to stay home as long as possible. Nursing Homes are being prioritised over services that enable people to stay at home. This research proposes that serious consideration needs to be taken place by the government in providing the appropriate social care approach to the individual needs of older people.

Success! 4 In a row for Louth Age Friendly Fair

Success! 4 In a row for

Louth Age Friendly Fair

As Louth host Ireland’s largest Age Friendly Fair for the fourth consecutive year, people turn out in their thousands to see what the “wee county” has to offer their senior generation. An estimated 3,000 people travelled nationwide to attend this Age Friendly Fair in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dundalk last Sunday.

Age Friendly Fair -Myhomecare stand Age Friendly Fair - Declan Murphy Myhomecare CEO

 

To say this event was a success is an understatement as over 50 exhibitors in various sectors attended the fair showcasing their finest products and services to the local community. Catering for all of our senior’s needs and more, the public had a chance to view what options are available for the senior generation, from care at home to healthcare services, retirement and pension advice, local travel initiatives to sampling local produce and more.

Age Friendly Fair -Stand Age Friendly Fair - Stand Age Friendly Fair - stand

Throughout the day we heard a number of informative talks on the latest services and initiatives available to our senior generation in Louth. Kicking things off with the launch of their latest service was Flexibus, Ireland’s first community care service, giving a presentation on their rural transport scheme. “This project is aimed at giving older people door-to-door transport through voluntary aid.”

We also heard Dementia Awareness and Body Mapping giving talks in the field along with demonstrations from Carmel Dowdall Chair Aerobics and Rosin Flanagan from McCabes Pharmacy, finishing off with live music from the O’Brien Brothers.Age Friendly Fair - Chaerobics

Undoubtedly stealing the show on the day had to the production team from the acclaimed documentary “Older Than Ireland”. This Irish documentary uncovers 100 years of a life as seen through the eyes of 30 Irish centenarians. Film producer Garry Walsh walked us through the highs and lows of making the documentary with his cast of Ireland’s oldest people, Kathleen Snavely (113-years-old) and Luke Dolan (108-years-old)

This annual fair truly is a community event supported by the Louth Age Friendly County Initiative, Age Friendly Business Forum, Louth Older People’s Forum, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce and Ardee Traders Association and finally the events main sponsor Myhoemcare.ie.

Louth Age Friendly Co-ordinator Mary Deery said “It has surpassed all our expectations in the last three years and I’m delighted with the take-up in age friendly business offerings.”

Myhomecare are Age Friendly Fair - Blathnait (homecare manager) and Jenny (Homcare coordinator)honoured to be part of such an informative and exciting event and are already looking forward to another successful Age Friendly Fair in 2016.