Beginning Basics: Understanding Early-Stage Alzheimer’s


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Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia, affects more than five million senior adults in the United States alone. However, few fully understand the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s until it hits close to home. Once a loved one has been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s, it’s time to start learning everything you can about memory loss.

“If someone you love has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the best thing you can do is educate yourself,” shares Ruth Cantillon, Director of Sales and Marketing at Osprey Lodge, an assisted living and memory care community in Tavares, FL. “By understanding the symptoms and stages of memory loss as much as possible, you’re preparing to give your loved one the best support and care as you help them through this disease.”

Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease Defined

While the terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are often used interchangeably, they are actually different classifications. Dementia itself is not a specific disease, but rather the name for a set of symptoms of severe cognitive decline that interferes with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, which causes the brain to gradually deteriorate and negatively affect memory, thinking and behavior. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases of dementia.

Understanding Early-Stage Alzheimer’s

The changes that occur in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease usually begin long before the first symptoms appear. Often, the early signs of memory loss are so subtle and come on so gradually that many fail to recognize that their lapses in memory or difficulty thinking are the beginnings of a serious condition. However, Alzheimer’s symptoms differ from normal “senior moments.” If you’re loved one is suffering from memory loss, their symptoms will occur regularly, interfere with their daily life and get worse over time.

Most seniors with early-stage Alzheimer’s can still function normally. To outsiders, they may not even appear to be living with dementia. They can still carry on a conversation, drive and continue working. This stage can last for years; however, their cognitive decline can still interfere during daily activities. In this stage, your loved one will probably need help:

  • Planning or organizing
  • Doing familiar tasks
  • Remembering words or names in conversation
  • Keeping appointments
  • Recalling familiar places or people
  • Keeping track of medications
  • Managing money

In addition to these difficulties, your loved one may also be dealing with the frustration that accompanies these symptoms. More than providing healthcare or daily assistance, the best way you can help your loved one in the early stages of memory loss is to offer support.

Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Early On

While your role in your loved one’s care during the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s will be more like a care partner than a full-time caregiver, you can still do so much to help them deal with the changes that memory loss will start to bring. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s article, “Early-Stage Caregiving,” support is vital during this time. Your loved one will have different needs than they did before Alzheimer’s effects, so be prepared to help them physically and emotionally by being present, helping them establish routines to assist their memory, working together on tasks and supporting them through difficult emotions.

It may seem easy for your loved one to decrease their engagement in social events or activities that they used to enjoy because of their emotions surrounding their disease. However, it’s important that you, as their care partner, encourage them to stay as involved and independent as possible. Not only will participating in favorite activities and spending time with others lift their spirits and improve their quality of life, but the more they continue to stay active and engage their mind, the more likely they are to help slow down the progression of their memory loss.

Another important aspect of caring for someone in the early stages of memory loss is to help them plan for the future. Experts agree that making plans early on is best for giving your loved one a say in their care decisions and legal plans, before memory loss takes away their ability to make these decisions for themselves. Talk to your loved one about their legal and financial situations and help them get their future plans in order. It’s also important to discuss long-term care, gathering your loved one’s opinions while they are still able to communicate their wishes. Discussing these difficult and complex topics early on will make it easier for both of you when the time comes to take care of these issues. You will have peace of mind knowing what your loved one wants, and you won’t feel as though you are making decisions on your own.

Here for You from the Very Beginning

At Osprey Lodge, we offer exceptional memory care to loved ones who can no longer live healthy or satisfying lifestyles without the support of around-the-clock, professional care. While the majority of our memory care residents come to Osprey Lodge during the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, we still believe in doing what we can to help seniors and families dealing with the trials of early-stage memory loss at home.

“Our community is a valuable source of information and support for families dealing with the life-changing effects of dementia,” says Cantillon. “Not only are our care staff trained in dementia care and able to help answer your questions and concerns, but we also host regular events for seniors and families to help them learn new care techniques, find helpful resources or receive the support they need from compassionate people who understand what they are going through.

“If you’d like to know more about how Osprey Lodge can help you and your loved one through their early-stage Alzheimer’s, contact us today!”

Come Flourish at Osprey Lodge!

Located on the banks of Lake Frances, Osprey Lodge offers Assisted Living and Memory Care services within the rustic warmth of a Colorado lodge in the rolling hills of central Florida. We provide an environment of socialization and volunteerism, as well as dependable health care services that promote independence, self-direction, social connections and daily purpose.

The Lodge lifestyle is a unique approach to senior living. While aging does come with challenges, our culture of connections creates an environment for residents to find daily purpose and joy. Here, residents don’t lose their independence. Instead, they receive countless avenues for which to connect with others through social activities or volunteer opportunities. We believe that everyone has something to contribute to their community, and we consider it our mission to help residents find what they can give – their skills, talents, company and enthusiasm.

Residents in our Assisted Living community and Memory Care program experience personalized, comprehensive healthcare services from dedicated, experienced professionals and staff. Each resident works with us to create their own Personal Care Plan, designed specifically for them to enjoy optimal independence while receiving the quality care they require.

We invite you to learn more about the fulfilling lifestyle and serves available at Osprey Lodge. Contact us today!