It can be challenging to know what to do when a parent starts showing early signs of dementia.
Do you know what to do for early-onset dementia? Or, how to help someone with early symptoms of dementia?
Early-onset dementia is dementia that starts before someone turns 65, usually occurring around the age of 50. And since dementia is a progressive disease, your loved one’s symptoms will get worse over time.
However, living with early-onset dementia doesn’t need to be crippling. When it comes to helping someone with early dementia, there are steps you can take to ensure they can maintain their quality of life for many years.
For those looking for early-onset dementia care information, keep reading.
In this article, we’re providing expert insight on the topic of early-onset dementia. You’ll get an answer to “How early can dementia start?” and get tips on how to help family members with dementia.
Here’s everything you need to know about early-stage dementia treatment and care.
General Information About Dementia
Before we talk about early-onset dementia care, we thought it would be best to share some introductory information regarding dementia.
Here are some of the most common questions families often have about dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term for memory loss that’s severe enough to affect daily life. There are several specific types of dementia, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Vascular Dementia
- Frontotemporal Dementia
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of dementia, and they’re still working to find treatments and cures.
What Are the Symptoms of Dementia?
The first symptom of dementia is usually short-term memory loss. Often, those who are developing dementia will forget:
- New names or places
- Where they placed items
- Event or appointment dates
They may also have a tough time completing tasks or staying organized on their own.
As dementia progresses, its symptoms will worsen and it may affect more than just short-term memory. For example, someone in the middle or late stages of dementia may experience:
- Confusion in familiar places
- Wandering and getting lost
- Sundowning or other mood/behavior changes
- Inability to dress, bathe, or groom themselves
- Difficulty walking, speaking, and/or eating
Eventually, most individuals with dementia require 24-hour care and assistance.
How Early Can Dementia Start?
Dementia most commonly affects elderly adults aged 65 or older, but there is the possibility that someone develops early-onset dementia as early as in their 30s. However, this is very uncommon and it’s more common for someone to show signs of early-onset dementia in their 40s or 50s.
The easiest way to know if a loved one has early-onset dementia and needs early-onset dementia care is to look for signs of short-term memory loss (like the ones listed in the previous section).
When someone develops early-onset dementia, a spouse or family member often takes on caregiving responsibility. If this is you, do you know what to do for early-onset dementia to ensure your loved one gets the care they need?
Keep reading for our expert tips on how to deal compassionately with someone with early-onset dementia.
How to Help Someone with Early Dementia
Helping someone with early dementia can seem overwhelming. There are definitely some challenges, but there are also many things you can do to improve the quality of life for a loved one living with early-onset dementia.
For those wondering how to help a family member with dementia, here are four steps you can take.
1. Encourage Independence
At the beginning of your loved one’s dementia diagnosis, they’ll most likely still be able to do many things on their own. Instead of immediately stepping in and doing everything for them, look for ways to help them maintain their independence.
For example, your loved one may want to cook a meal but might lose their train of thought or forget steps. Don’t take over the meal entirely. Rather, look for ways to help remind them about steps they’re overlooking or ingredients they’re forgetting.
When working with early dementia in a loved one, it can be helpful to assume your loved one can complete the task themself and only offer assistance if your loved one asks for it or you sense frustration.
2. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Want to know how to help someone with early dementia? Encourage and promote a healthy lifestyle in your loved one.
Some ways to help your loved one live a healthy life include:
- Preparing meals that promote a balanced diet
- Encouraging physical exercise, like taking walks
- Driving them to/from social engagements
- Identifying potentially stressful situations and offering your assistance
- Playing fun, stimulating games with them
A healthy lifestyle will allow your loved one to live well for as long as possible. It will also help them keep any pre-existing medical conditions under control.
3. Take Care of Legal Matters
Help for early dementia will also look like getting legal matters under control.
Unfortunately, there will most likely come a day when your loved one can’t act on their own behalf or make decisions. Taking care of legal matters while your loved one is still in good mental health will ensure they:
- Have a say in these matters
- Are protected from financial abuse
- Receive quality care in their later years
Some legal actions and steps to take include:
- Getting power of attorney for your loved one
- Collecting important documents, like social security cards, birth certificates, etc.
- Having your parents make a will
It can be helpful to talk to an elder law attorney to ensure that you don’t leave any stone unturned in regards to your parents’ legal matters.
4. Seek Professional Dementia Care Help
Lastly, you don’t need to try to navigate early-stage dementia treatment and care on your own. There are professionals who can come alongside you to provide you with resources, tools, and hands-on assistance as you care for your loved one.
Geriatric Care Management is a service that relieves caregiver burdens and improves the quality of life for loved ones with dementia. Care Managers are a valuable resource for family caregivers because they:
- Perform a Person-Centered Care Assessment of your loved one
- Craft a personalized nursing care plan for your loved one
- Oversee in-home caregivers who enter into your loved one’s home
- Walk alongside you as you encounter new stages/symptoms of dementia
Care Managers can also help you during decision-making processes to ensure your loved one receives the care they need.
If you don’t know what to do for early-onset dementia, seeking professional dementia care assistance is one of the best things you can do.
Expert Help for Early Dementia Caregivers and Loved Ones
Dementia is a progressive memory loss disease that usually starts around age 65. However, there’s a chance that someone develops early-onset dementia in their 40s or 50s.
Early-onset dementia care is often provided by a spouse or other family member. But often, these individuals aren’t prepared for such a diagnosis and aren’t sure how to deal well with someone with early-onset dementia.
If you find yourself caring for a loved one with early dementia and want to know how to help someone with early dementia, you can start by:
- Encouraging independence
- Promoting a healthy lifestyle
- Taking care of legal matters
- Seeking professional dementia care
For those looking to chat with an elder care expert in the Milwaukee, WI area, contact us.
At Stowell Associates, we’ve been providing quality Care Management services to elderly adults and their family members for nearly 40 years. Our Care Managers have extensive training and knowledge in dementia care. They can help you better understand how to care for your loved one and provide recommendations during decision-making processes.
If you’re looking for an in-home caregiver for your loved one, you can contact TheKey. They provide trained, in-person caregivers to assist aging adults as they age in their homes.
Talk with a Care Manager today to learn more about our dementia Care Management services.