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What might Alzheimer’s look like?

What might Alzheimer’s look like?

Noticing the early signs in your parents.

Over the past two years, families have had to forgo a lot of together time due to the Covid restrictions, so it’s no surprise that many of us can go months without being in the same room as our aging parents. If you’ve been communicating with your mom or dad primarily by phone or facetime, you might notice some worrisome changes when you’re finally in the same room together.

And while the most active parent will naturally slow down a bit over time, some signs warrant further investigation:

Repeating the same question or story. Everyone has moments when they forget they’ve told an account already, but if you notice your mom asking you the same question repeatedly or that your dad is telling you about the neighbors for the third time in an hour, they could be struggling with short term memory.

Confusion about how much time has passed, problems with time management. Alzheimer’s disease damages the part of the brain responsible for processing the passage of time, so your parent might think you’ve been gone hours when it’s only been a few minutes, or they might say that they hadn’t seen you in several years when it was just last month.

Failing to recognize or remember people. We all know how much family members can change, especially children, but if your parent struggles to remember loved ones, they could be showing signs of dementia.

Changes in appearance. Is your ordinarily polished mom looking disheveled? Has your dad lost a lot of weight? Check the refrigerator and cupboards for fresh food or signs of a recent trip to the grocery store. They may be forgetting meals.

Difficulty following the conversation. Hearing loss makes group conversations more challenging, but if your parent is not processing your one-on-one conversation, it may signify some cognitive challenges.

Poor judgment. Maybe you’re always practical dad is suddenly spending large amounts of money or crossing the street while traffic is coming. One of the early signs of Alzheimer’s is the inability to assess short- and long-term consequences, so your parent might not understand the implications of their actions.

Dents in the car. Driving is a complex brain task involving many brain areas at once. Cognitively impaired drivers are a danger to themselves and everyone else. If you see dents or scratches on the car, it’s a strong indicator that your parent is struggling.

Mail or bills left unopened. Take note of untouched paperwork. Although we all procrastinate, people with dementia frequently avoid complex tasks like answering mail and paying bills.

A decline in the household management. Aging parents naturally might fall behind on large-scale or highly physical tasks like yard work, but if your parents are not washing the dishes or doing the laundry, take some time to investigate what’s happening. They may be forgetting to do those chores.

Mood changes or personality changes. An early indicator of dementia is a personality change. If your mom’s sunny disposition is angry or your friendly dad withdraws from others, they could be suffering from cognitive changes or depression.

If the change in your mom or dad is dramatic or dangerous, it’s time to make an appointment with their general practitioner for a complete evaluation. You’ll want to accompany your parent to this appointment and communicate with the doctor in advance about any cognitive changes you’ve seen.

If the changes are slight, there is no reason to overwhelm your parent with your concerns. Spend time together and see if your parent brings up any problems they’ve been having. Enjoy your time together and plan to keep a closer eye on them in the coming months. Talk to your siblings or your parent’s friends and neighbors and get their perspective. Enlist a few family members to check in regularly or start talking with your parent about having some additional help.

Remember, it can be hard to judge how your parent is doing in just a few busy days. Holidays aren’t always the best time to evaluate the situation, so make plans to check in on regular days too. See if your parent is following through on planned doctor’s appointments or getting to their regular events.

By |2022-01-11T13:39:16-06:00January 11th, 2022|Categories: Alzheimer's, Avalon Memory Care, Memory Care|0 Comments