When your aging parent begins to forget little things here and there, age is often the culprit.
Most seniors experience age-related forgetfulness and tend to momentarily forget names, dates, appointments, and other details (though the forgotten information tends to come back to them later). These little memory slips are a normal part of the aging process and don’t necessarily stem from Alzheimer’s.
On the other hand, if your parent becomes significantly less able to perform basic tasks, navigate familiar places, or communicate due to memory loss or confusion, tune in! Be careful not to dismiss these changes or shrug them off by saying, “They’re just getting old.”
When signs of a more serious decline pop up, they need your eyes and ears more than ever.
The prospect of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be heartbreaking and scary for seniors and their family members. However, spotting Alzheimer’s early on enables you to act quickly on your senior’s behalf, so that they can access information about preventative measures, treatments that will alleviate some of their memory loss, and methods to slow the progression of the disease. While Alzheimer’s has no present cure, progression-slowing treatments can keep your senior healthy, happy, and independent for much longer.
As you spend time with your senior, be on the lookout for these early signs of Alzheimer’s:
- Diminished problem-solving ability
- New difficulty communicating (trouble speaking, writing, finding words, etc.)
- Uncharacteristically poor judgment
- Decline in sociability, mood, or emotional resilience
- Losing track of time, location, or how they arrived there
- Difficulty with routine tasks (how to tie shoes, cook a familiar recipe, turn on the shower, etc.)
Such changes have a far greater impact on your senior’s life than normal, age-related decline, and should be taken seriously. However, keep in mind that if your parent asks you to show them how to record a TV show for the tenth time or momentarily forgets someone’s name, they may not have Alzheimer’s (and if they do have Alzheimer’s, they may only exhibit some of the symptoms above).
If you notice any of these symptoms, start taking notes.
When your parent experiences any significant change in function, behavior, or mental status, be sure to document it. Also pay close attention to whether your parent’s difficulties are physical, mental, or both. (For a more detailed list of potential symptoms and how to spot them, get familiar with the 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s.) Then, make time to have your parent evaluated by their doctor and discuss the changes you see. With close attention and a carefully kept log of behaviors, you can help provide a complete picture for your doctor and increase the chances of an accurate diagnosis for your parent. Meanwhile, the best thing you can do is to watch, listen, and continue caring patiently for your senior.
When caring for your senior becomes overwhelming, don’t wait to ask for help.
A Care Connection exists to connect your senior to the right support and help keep them safely at home for as long as possible. We are experienced providers of compassionate care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, equipped to meet your senior’s needs. Give us a call at (904) 899-5520 and set up your complimentary consultation today.