Medical problems in people with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia often go unnoticed due to impaired communication between the person with dementia and the caregiver. If you’re caring for someone who has dementia, here are some potential health problems to look out for:
Pain. People who have dementia still feel pain, but may not be able to tell you when they’re hurting. Watch facial expressions for grimacing, and look for signs of agitation. Behavioral changes, such as yelling or striking out can also be signs of pain. When in doubt, offer pain medications as prescribed, or call your Kansas City Alzheimer’s doctor.
Dehydration. Preventing dehydration in someone who has dementia can be challenging. People with dementia may not think to drink enough water throughout the day. They may be on medications that cause them to lose water. Or mobility issues may make it difficult to get a drink when they’re thirsty.
Signs of dehydration may include increased confusion, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, cracked lips, or dark urine. Try to keep track of daily fluid intake, especially during hot weather, and offer water on a regular basis (Aim for at least six glasses a day.).
Constipation. Lack of mobility, certain medications, and dietary changes can all contribute to constipation in people who have Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. Offer foods that are high in fiber (e.g., prunes, oatmeal, broccoli, beans, flaxseeds) and plenty of water.
Fever. A fever greater than 100.4° F in someone with dementia can indicate infection, dehydration, or heat exhaustion. In case of fever, call your Kansas City Alzheimer’s doctor.
Flu. People with dementia have a higher risk of complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, because their immune systems are compromised. If you’re providing dementia home care, make sure the person you’re caring for gets a flu shot each year. If he or she develops symptoms of the flu (e.g., fever, cough, runny nose, chills), call your Kansas City Alzheimer’s doctor.
Falls/Injuries. People with dementia can be unsteady on their feet, and are at a greater risk for falls. To reduce the risk of injuries, make sure pathways are well lit and free of clutter, install grab bars in bathrooms, remove throw rugs, and provide shoes with good traction.
Providing in home care for seniors with dementia can be more than a little challenging. If you need help, contact a Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.