As an older adult, or the loved one of an older adult, it is important to know certain signs and red flags concerning prevalent diseases. For many seniors, dementia is a great concern. Studies show that it is a valid source of anxiety among seniors over the age of 65. According to an Alzheimer’s Association study, 1 in 9 seniors over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s Disease; the number only increases when other types of dementia are included.
Since knowledge is power, and since early intervention can often lead to treatment that increases the quality of life, the more you know about dementia, the better. Specifically, the more you know about dementia in men, the more you can watch for warning signs showing in the older man in your life.
Dementia Statistics in Men
According to a recent study, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that more than 6 million people in America are living with some type of dementia. This number is only expected to rise as lifespans increase and the Boomer generation continues to age. Older women seem to show signs of dementia at a higher rate than men, but men are not immune to this progressive cognitive disease. How does dementia affect the male population specifically?
The Alzheimer’s Association notes that for adults over the age of 71, 16% of women have dementia while 11% of men have some type of this disease. Scientists are unclear about the reasoning for this discrepancy, but some credible theories include women living longer or genes reacting differently with exposure to more estrogen. In any case, 11% of men in this age range still translates to many men living with dementia.
Early Warning Signs
Discovering Alzheimer’s Disease (or any dementia) as early as possible, is ideal. Not only does early recognition lead to early treatment, but also early diagnosis can help families tie up any emotional or financial loose ends before the older adult becomes significantly impaired. These are just a few early signs that could appear in men who are showing symptoms of the beginning stage of dementia.
Reasoning Skills and Judgment
Has Dad been wearing inappropriate clothes for the season? Has he been making unusual (and unwise) financial decisions lately? This shift in routine could be caused by dementia and should be investigated further.
Complex Task Completion
Is Dad unable to follow through on his hobbies or projects? An inability to complete a woodworking project, one that he could have easily completed a few years ago, could indicate dementia. Warning signs also include the inability to pay bills on time and correctly, as well as forgetting to plan events and follow through. If Dad is missing his regular Wednesday morning breakfast appointment with his buddies for no apparent reason, it would be wise to make a doctor appointment.
Word Finding and Communication
Communication difficulties are often a common warning sign for dementia sufferers, but it can be more difficult to notice this trend if Dad is a bit soft-spoken or a “man of few words”. You may have to look a bit harder to notice a change, but if Dad cannot find the word for a common thing, or if he seems unable to keep up with conversation around him, bring it up at the next doctor appointment. This change could indicate dementia, or a hearing loss issue; either problem should be addressed.
Dementia can cause personality changes by altering the brain; it also makes the people living with dementia more frustrated over other cognitive changes. If you notice personality changes, this could be a symptom of dementia.
Is Dad forgetting names of loved ones, favorite memories, or other events? Memory loss is certainly the hallmark of any type of dementia and should be investigated with a doctor’s supervision.
If you have noticed one or more of the warning signs listed above, or if you have noticed and become concerned about other odd behaviors, call your loved one’s doctor to make an appointment. During this visit, you and your senior loved one can speak candidly about what is happening at home, and discuss the possibility of any gaps or additional medical conditions that could be causing or enhancing the symptoms.
The doctor of your loved one may refer him to further neurological testing in order to get a more reliable diagnosis. This is an important step in receiving the help and treatment that will add to your loved one's quality of life, and will also give you the resources you need to best care for him during this time.
Do you have more questions about dementia or how to deal with safety concerns that sometimes follow in the path of the disease? Download and review our free Dementia Guide to get reliable information that can point you in the right direction.