You cannot quite put your finger on it, but you have started to observe some differences in Mom’s habits lately. She is somewhat more forgetful than before. She keeps losing her car keys. Often, she repeats herself. Are you facing Alzheimer’s in a senior loved one?
Currently, over 6.5 million seniors age 65 and older are battling dementia. Because of this, it’s important to learn about the early warning signs to watch for and how to handle them should we observe them in a friend or family member. Medical experts are finding that one helpful means of assessing an older adult for dementia is assessing eight critical aspects of functionality. If you’re having concerns about Alzheimer’s in a an older loved one, a good starting point is to ask yourself the following:
- Is the individual less enthusiastic about once-enjoyed hobbies? Mom might have always enjoyed gardening but has given up pursuing this activity, or is simply spending more hours acting bored and restless rather than engaged in rewarding interests.
- Is she saying the same things again and again? These could be tales from the past or more current stories, or questions that you have previously answered.
- How’s her sense of judgment? Observe the decisions she is making about her purchases, for instance. Is she handing out a large amount of money? There could be more innocuous lapses in judgment as well, such as attempting to bake two dozen cupcakes when there is no one to share them with.
- Does she grow puzzled in regards to the current place and time? Forgetting that today is Wednesday is fairly common, particularly for somebody who is retired and no longer restricted by a schedule. However, not remembering what month or year it is needs to be noted.
- Can she learn something new? Are you finding the need to explain multiple times how to work a straightforward new appliance? Though there is a learning curve for anything new, look closely at whether understanding something new seems insurmountable.
- Is she missing responsibilities? This includes both scheduled appointments, like a haircut or doctor’s visit, and less formal obligations, such as giving you a call after dinner or meeting you for a standing weekly lunch date.
- How does her checkbook look? Are bills being paid on time? Is her checkbook balanced, or does it appear she has been having difficulty dealing with household finances? One key warning sign is whether mail is being opened and tended to right away. A stack of unopened mail is worth noting.
- Is she struggling with memory? Focus on any areas of general confusion in reasoning as well as memory. In particular, evaluate 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 senior) first detect these changes?
- Are these instances a difference or decline, or a brand new behavior altogether?
- Are there any symptoms of physical issues or limitations that may be leading to the concern and that should be addressed?
With all of this information in hand, schedule a consultation with the individual’s doctor to share your concerns. During the appointment, the physician will conduct an assessment to see if Alzheimer’s could be the cause and determine what the subsequent steps should be.
At Hearts at Home In-Home Care, our specially trained and experienced home care team is available to help older loved ones in any stage of Alzheimer’s to improve wellbeing. We will develop an customized care plan to outline the ways we can help the individual best manage the challenges being faced, and then review and update the plan regularly as needs change. Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 to learn more about how our dementia care services can help.