Dementia and Alzheimer’s Care: The Deadly Costs of a Delayed Diagnosis

Dementia and Alzheimer's care
Putting off treatment for dementia can have irreversible consequences.
Image credit: Ulrich Joho

 

Many ailments and injuries, such as strokes and falls, come on suddenly. They have immediate symptoms, and the consequences of delayed treatment are obvious. Few among us would put off getting help for our senior loved one for conditions like these. But what do you do when a condition’s symptoms aren’t so straightforward, or the illness is one you’d rather not deal with? Read on to find out the deadly cost of a delayed diagnosis when it comes to dementia and Alzheimer’s care – and why it’s one you can’t afford to pay.

How do you know if it’s Alzheimer’s?

The most common type of dementia to affect the elderly is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain condition that causes impairment in memory, thinking, and actions. It is not to be confused with ordinary forgetfulness or behavioral changes due to TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), or in response to certain medications.

Not to be too flip about it, but we in the business often say, “Forgetfulness is when you can’t remember where you put your keys. Alzheimer’s is when you forget what your keys are for.” Of course, it’s more complicated than that. This glib saying offers only a very general idea of one symptom of the condition. If you suspect a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you should seek the advice of a licensed health professional immediately.

Lost memories

The symptom most people associate with dementia, like Alzheimer’s, is memory loss. Although this symptom is only part of the condition, it is indeed one of the most salient components. Victims lose short-term memories first and often retain long-term ones for a greater amount of time. This is why someone with Alzheimer’s may not remember their grown children, but can recall people from the neighborhood where they grew up with ease. Eventually, however, as the disease progresses it will likely take these memories too, unless measures are put into place to delay the onset of symptoms.

Lost functioning

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s isn’t just an illness that affects memories like names, dates, and places. It also affects memories like how to do things. This loss can be as complicated as remembering how to make a four-course meal, or as simple as getting dressed in the morning. That’s why early dementia and Alzheimer’s care is essential, because if it’s postponed, the victim can lose a part of their independence that they may never enjoy again.

Lost personality

What many people don’t realize is that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia also come with personality changes. Take the example of my grandmother, who suffered from the disease. Towards the end, she became very hostile and belligerent to those around her – a complete change from the sweet, accommodating woman she’d been all her life. Without early intervention, your loved ones may become angry, suspicious, and moody in ways they never were before.

Options for dementia and Alzheimer’s care

Presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, although you should check with your loved one’s physician regarding other forms of dementia and related treatment options. Medications like Namenda and Aricept can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, but cannot reverse it. Nothing can turn back the clock on this disease, and once it has taken its toll on the victim’s brain, they can’t regain what they’ve lost.

Get dementia and Alzheimer’s care before a tragic loss occurs

Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be some of the most difficult conditions for family members to admit to and talk about. But consider the fact that failing to do so – or being unaware of the beginning symptoms – can result in tragedy. Living in denial does nothing but steal more time and meaningful interactions between you and those you care about. The only way to ensure your loved one’s company and quality of life for as long as possible is to face the facts and begin treating their condition today.

If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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