You can’t quite pinpoint it, and yet you’ve started to observe some differences in Mom’s behaviors recently. She is a little bit more forgetful than before. She keeps losing her car keys. Sometimes she repeats herself. Could it be dementia?
Currently, more than 6.5 million people age 65 and older are battling the disease, so it’s essential to learn about the initial indicators to watch for and what to do should they be noticed in a loved one. Medical experts have found that one helpful means of evaluating an older adult for Alzheimer’s is talking to family members about eight key aspects of functionality. If you are having concerns about someone you love, a good place to begin is to ask yourself if you’re noticing any of these 8 warning signs of dementia:
- Is the person less interested in once-enjoyed activities? Mom might have always loved working in the garden but has given up pursuing this activity, or is simply spending more hours acting bored and restless instead of engaged in rewarding activities.
- Is she saying the same things time and time again? These could be stories from the past or more current tales, or questions you have already answered a few times before.
- How is her sense of judgment? Focus on the decisions she’s making about her purchases, for instance. Is she giving away a large amount of money? There could possibly be more harmless lapses in judgment as well, such as planning to bake a triple batch of cookies when there’s no one to share them with.
- Does she get puzzled regarding the current place and time? Forgetting that today is Thursday is quite common, specifically for somebody who is retired and no longer restricted by a schedule. But, forgetting what month or year it is needs to be noted.
- Can she learn new things? Are you finding the need to explain multiple times how to work a straightforward new kitchen appliance? While there is a learning curve for anything new, focus on whether understanding something new seems impossible.
- Is she missing responsibilities? This includes both planned appointments, like a doctor visit or haircut, and less formal obligations, such as giving you a call after lunch or meeting you for your standing weekly coffee date.
- What do her finances look like? Are bills being paid on time? Is her checkbook balanced, or does it appear she’s having difficulty managing household finances? One crucial warning sign is whether the mail is being opened and tended to on time. A pile of unopened mail is worth noting.
- Is she struggling with memory? Look closely at any areas of general confusion in thinking as well as memory. For example, gauge her short-term memory (such as asking what she had for breakfast or what she did yesterday afternoon).
While evaluating each one of these areas, make note of the following as well:
- When did you (or someone else close to the individual) first detect these changes?
- Are these instances a change or decline, or a brand new behavior entirely?
- Are there any signs of physical problems or limitations that may be causing the concern and that need to be addressed?
With all of this information at hand, set up a visit with the individual’s doctor to share your concerns. During the appointment, the physician will conduct an evaluation to see if Alzheimer’s could be the cause and determine what the next steps should be.
At Absolute Companion Care, our specially trained and experienced home care team is available to help older adults in any stage of dementia optimize wellbeing. We will develop a personalized plan of care to help the person best deal with the challenges being faced, and then review and update the plan on a regular basis as needs change. Call us at 410-357-9640 to learn more about how our dementia care services can provide support.