Dementia is described by the Alzheimer's Association as "an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities." Indeed, there are a variety of types of dementia, depending upon the types of brain cells damaged, and where specifically that damage has occurred within the brain.
Regardless of the type of dementia an elder may have, it is important that symptoms are recognized as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your loved elder. Even if an elder is receiving care or assistance from a family member, in-home caregiver, or residing in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, it is still vital to recognize symptoms of mental decline in elders. This is partly due to the fact that unfortunately, it is believed that elders who suffer from some form of dementia are thought to be at greater risk for abuse or neglect than elders who do not have some form of dementia.
In fact, according to one research brief released by the NCEA, three different international studies have found that the rates of elder abuse for elders with dementia ranges from 34% - 62%.
Symptoms that a loved elder in your life may be developing dementia include cognitive changes and psychological changes. Some of these changes may include:
*Trouble choosing the right words
*Disorientation or getting lost
*Challenges in planning/organizing
*Coordination or motor function difficulties
*Agitation or paranoia
*Lack of proper personal care and poor nutrition/eating habits
*Injuries/personal safety problems
If you believe that a loved elder in your life is beginning to show symptoms of dementia, it's important to take action, though it's advisable to tread lightly, per the helpful website DementiaToday.com, which provides excellent tips for how to talk to a loved elder about your concerns.
If you have reason to believe that a loved elder with dementia is being abused physically, financially, psychologically, or sexually, it is important that you report your suspicions to the proper authorities.
• The local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney's office. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at (619) 531-4040.
• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at (800) 231-4024.
• Adult Protective Services (APS), in San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660.