confused senior lady on phone at desk

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’ve begun to notice some differences in a parent’s behaviors recently. He is somewhat more forgetful than before. She keeps losing her car keys. At times he repeats himself. Could it be dementia?

Currently, more than 6.5 million people age 65 and older are battling dementia, so it’s important to know what early indicators to watch for and what to do if we notice them in someone we love. Medical experts are finding that one helpful tool in evaluating a senior for dementia is talking to family members about eight important aspects of functionality. If you’re having concerns about somebody you love, a good place to start is to look for these 8 behaviors that may indicate Alzheimer’s:

  1. Is the individual less interested in once-enjoyed activities? Mom may have always loved gardening but has given up pursuing this hobby, or is simply spending more hours acting restless and bored as opposed to engaged in enjoyable pastimes.
  2. Is she saying the same things time and time again? These might be tales from the past or more current stories, or questions which you have previously answered.
  3. How is her sense of judgment? Focus on the decisions she’s making about her expenses, for example. Is she handing out a large amount of money? There might be more innocuous lapses in judgment as well, such as attempting to bake two dozen cupcakes when there’s nobody to share them with.
  4. Is she confused concerning the current time and place? Forgetting that today is Tuesday is reasonably common, especially for somebody who is retired or doesn’t have to keep to a specific schedule. However, forgetting what month or year it is should 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 scheduled appointments, like a haircut or doctor’s visit, and less formal obligations, such as calling you at a specific time or meeting you for a standing weekly lunch date.
  7. How does her checkbook look? Are bills being paid on time? Is her checkbook balanced, or does it appear she is having difficulty keeping up with household finances? One critical red flag is whether mail is being opened and tended to right away. A pile of unopened mail may be worth noting.
  8. Is she having difficulties with memory? Pay attention to any areas of general confusion in reasoning as well as memory. For example, gauge her short-term memory (asking what she had for breakfast or what she did yesterday afternoon).

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

  • When did you (or someone else close to the individual) first notice these changes?
  • Are these instances a difference or decline, or a new behavior entirely?
  • Are there any signs of physical issues or limitations that might be leading to the concern and that need to be dealt with?

With all of this information at hand, set up an appointment with the individual’s primary care physician 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 Abby Senior Care, our specially trained and experienced senior care team is available to help older loved ones in any stage of dementia to maximize wellbeing. We will develop an individualized plan of care to outline how we can help the individual best manage the challenges being faced, and then review and update the plan regularly as needs change. Contact us at 303-699-8840 for more information about how our home care services can help.