confused senior lady on phone at desk

You cannot quite put your finger on it, but you’ve started to detect some differences in Mom’s conduct lately. She is more forgetful than before. She keeps losing her car keys. Occasionally she repeats herself. Is it Alzheimer’s disease?

Currently, more than 6.5 million people age 65 and older are battling the disease, therefore it’s important to know the early warning signs to watch for and understand what to do should they be observed in a loved one. Medical professionals have found that one helpful tool in determining if you might be seeing the early signs of dementia in a loved one is assessing eight key elements of functionality. If you’re having concerns about somebody you love, a great place to begin is to ask yourself the following:

  1. Is the person less enthusiastic about once-enjoyed activities? Mom may have always enjoyed working in the garden but has abandoned this pastime, or is simply spending more time acting bored and restless rather than involved with engaging interests.
  2. Is she saying the same things repeatedly? These may be tales from the past or more current stories, or questions you have previously answered.
  3. How is her sense of judgment? Look closely at the decisions she is making about her expenses, for instance. Is she handing out large sums of money? There could possibly be more innocuous lapses in judgment as well, like attempting to bake two dozen cupcakes when there’s no one to share them with.
  4. Does she get confused regarding the current place and time? Forgetting that today is Tuesday is very common, particularly for someone who is retired and no longer restricted by a schedule. But, not knowing what month or year it is must be noted.
  5. Can she learn a new challenge? Do you have to explain multiple times how to use a simple new appliance? Although there is a learning curve for anything new, take note of whether learning something new seems insurmountable.
  6. Is she missing responsibilities? This includes both planned appointments, like a haircut or doctor’s visit, and less formal plans, like calling you after dinner or meeting you for a standing weekly lunch date.
  7. What do her finances look like? Are bills being paid late? Is her checkbook balanced, or does it appear she’s having difficulty with managing household finances? One crucial red flag is whether mail is being opened and tended to on time. A stack of unopened mail is definitely worth noting.
  8. Is she having difficulties with memory? Look closely at any areas of general confusion in reasoning as well as memory. Particularly, assess her short-term memory (asking what she had for breakfast or what she did yesterday afternoon).

While assessing these areas, make note of the following as well:

  • When did you (or someone else close to the person) first notice these changes?
  • Are these instances a difference or decline, or a brand new behavior entirely?
  • Are there any symptoms of physical problems or limitations that may be leading to the concern that should be dealt with?

With all of this information at hand, set up an appointment with the individual’s doctor to share your concerns. During the appointment, the physician will conduct an evaluation to see if dementia may be the cause and determine what the next steps should be.

At Home With You Senior Care, our specially trained and experienced home care team is available to help older adults in any stage of Alzheimer’s to optimize quality of life. We will create a personalized care plan to outline the ways we can help the  individual best deal with the difficulties being faced, and then review and update the plan on a regular basis as needs change. Call us at 410-756-0959 to find out more about how our home care services can provide the proper amount and type of support.