How to Talk with a Loved One about Dementia

Watching parents and loved ones grow older isn’t always easy. Signs of dementia can make it even more challenging. You may wonder whether these signs and symptoms are something you should even mention to your loved ones. At Syncare Memory Suites in Minnesota, we understand this struggle. It’s a conversation that may seem overwhelming, but it likely means an earlier diagnosis and a smoother transition into major life changes.

Signs & Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can also be characteristic of age-related changes. But if you’re noticing changes to your loved one’s memory, thinking, and social abilities, it’s worth investigating. These changes can include:

    • Memory loss that’s disrupting daily life
    • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
    • Difficulty planning or solving problems
    • Confusing time and place
    • Misplacing things and getting lost
    • Changes in judgement and decision making
    • Difficulty speaking and writing

If you notice these or other symptoms, it’s best to speak with a doctor. A proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can mean access to treatment plans, plus the opportunity to begin making financial and legal plans for your loved one.

Speaking to a Loved One about Dementia Symptoms

Feeling at a loss for words is common when it comes to speaking to a loved one about dementia symptoms. No one wants to negatively affect a relationship or upset someone they love. But it’s a conversation worth having as early as possible. Before you do, consider who might be the best person for the job. Is there a particular family member to whom your loved one is exceptionally close? You should also be prepared for your loved one to act defensively or be unwilling to discuss the changes you’ve noticed. He or she may not be able to see these changes or symptoms in themselves, either. It’s also common for them to feel confused, or to deny or withdraw. Here are four tips for this difficult conversation:

    • Be direct and specific: Tell your loved one that you’ve noticed changes in their behavior that you wanted to discuss. Share examples of those changes, and ask if they’ve noticed them as well.
    • Be supportive:  Acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation and that these can be scary changes for your loved one. Let them know you’re here for them and willing to help however you can.
    • Be prepared: Tell your loved one that you’d like to schedule a doctor’s appointment for a definitive answer.
    • Don’t wait: The sooner you can have this conversation, the better.

The Takeaway

There is no easy way to broach a conversation about dementia symptoms with a loved one. But recognizing the importance of this kind of discussion can help. Once you know definitively whether a loved one truly has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you’re in a position to start planning. In Minnesota, Syncare Memory Suites can help.

How Do I Know It’s Time for Memory Care?

It’s not always easy to know when a loved one should be transitioned out of the family home into memory care. That’s why it can be helpful to know that there are signs that often point to the inevitable. If you’re wondering whether it may be time for memory care for your loved one, these may be indications.

The Burden on Loved Ones

Caregiving is a difficult task. From physical demands to demands on time, caring for an aging loved one, particularly one who has dementia, can quickly become overwhelming. Burnout is a very real phenomenon for family members who have taken it upon themselves to care for a loved one. Don’t overlook it. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Neglecting your own physical and mental needs will catch up with you – quickly. 

Transitioning to a specialized memory care home, like Syncare Memory Suites here in Minnesota, can mean more quality time with your loved one. Our staff is trained to meet the needs and individual best interests of those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, so that you can spend time with your loved one in ways that truly matter.

Safety Concerns

If your loved one is dealing with confusion issues, has wandered off, or appears disoriented, it’s important to judge the situation realistically. There are a number of safety concerns that can arise from confusion, disorientation, or wandering off. If these are on your mind, it could be a sign that your loved one needs more supervision than you can provide.

Hygiene Decline

A telltale sign of memory loss is often related to a decline in personal hygiene. People living with dementia may forget to brush their teeth, bathe, shave, style their hair, or even dress in clean clothes. In some cases, they’ve forgotten how to do these things, but feel too embarrassed to ask for help.

Difficulty with Household Tasks

A common sign of dementia is difficulty completing familiar tasks. These can often include things like paying bills and keeping household items properly stocked. A loved one may also have trouble remembering whether they’ve already purchased something, or determining whether something is valuable or not. This decline in reasoning can also make them susceptible to scams.

Next Steps

Recognizing one or more of these signs in your loved one may be the incentive you need to learn more about your care options. At Syncare Memory Suites, we understand how overwhelming this process can be. We’re here to help – even if you don’t end up choosing our private home for your loved one. Contact us today, and let us answer all of your questions.