More than six million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease. An estimated 11 million family, friends, and unpaid caregivers are caring for them.
Knowing the signs of early dementia, also known as mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is critical so patients and their families can get support as soon as possible.
Here are more on the steps families can take.
Sandy Vincent never imagined that she would reach retirement age, and then become a caregiver again for her 96-year-old mother Margret.
“She forgets. She calls me Sandy. Other times I’m Irene who was her cousin. Sometimes she’ll say to me ‘how’s your mother?'” said Sandy Vincent, Caregiver.
Experts said that the top three signs of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, are memory loss, especially new information, difficulty performing daily tasks, and losing language skills.
Doctor Manisha Parulekar is a geriatric medicine specialist. As symptoms of MCI begin to appear, she recommends that families help loved ones write down their routines.
“For some reason, the visual pathway seems to be staying longer with the patients,” said Manisha Parulekar, MD, Geriatrician, Hackensack University Medical Center.
Use Post-It notes in a prominent place.
“They’re going in the bathroom, brush your teeth. Breaking it down in simple steps and putting it on the Post-It so they can understand it,” said Dr. Parulekar.
If sentences become stilted, determine which words might be troublesome. List others they can use and practice.
Losing language skills can lead to depression.
“They don’t remember the words and then they stop talking to people. Then they start isolating themselves, and then it’s sort of a downhill course. There are times where you know she’ll say she’ll complete sentences and everything and make sense, and then there are other times that I guess she can’t find the words,” said Dr. Parulekar.
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Helping families dealing with loved ones in the early stages of dementia.