confused senior lady on phone at desk

You can’t quite put your finger on it, and yet you’ve begun to notice some differences in Mom’s conduct recently. She is more forgetful than before. She keeps misplacing her car keys. Often, she repeats herself. Is it Alzheimer’s disease?

Currently, over 6.5 million people age 65 and older are battling dementia. Because of this, it’s crucial to learn about the personality changes that could point to dementia and know how to proceed should those changes be detected in a friend or family member. Medical professionals have found that one helpful tool in evaluating an individual for dementia is interviewing family members about eight key aspects of functionality. If you’re having concerns about somebody you love, a great place to start is to ask yourself the following:

  1. Is the person less enthusiastic about once-enjoyed activities? Mom might have always loved gardening but has given up pursuing this pastime, or is simply spending more time acting restless and bored as opposed to involved with pleasurable pastimes.
  2. Is she saying the same things repeatedly? These could be tales from the past or more current stories, or questions you have already answered several times.
  3. How is her sense of judgment? Focus on the decisions she is making about her expenses, for example. Is she handing out a large amount of money? There may be more harmless lapses in judgment too, like attempting to bake a triple batch of cookies when there is no one to share them with.
  4. Does she grow confused in regards to the current place and time? Forgetting that today is Wednesday is fairly common, specifically for someone who is retired or doesn’t have to keep to a specific schedule. But, forgetting what month or year it is should be noted.
  5. Can she learn something new? Do you have to explain multiple times how to use a simple new home appliance? Though there is a learning curve for anything new, take note of whether learning something new seems impossible.
  6. Is she missing responsibilities? This includes both planned appointments, like a haircut or doctor’s visit, and less formal plans, such as giving you a call after dinner or meeting you for your 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’s having difficulty handling household finances? One critical warning sign is whether or not mail is being opened regularly and tended to on time. A stack of unopened mail is definitely worth noting.
  8. Is she having difficulties with memory? Observe any areas of general confusion in thinking as well as memory. Particularly, assess 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 person) first observe these changes?
  • Are these instances a difference or decline, or a brand new behavior entirely?
  • Are there any indications of physical problems or limitations that may be resulting in the concern and that ought to be dealt with?

With all of this information in hand, set up an appointment with the person’s primary care physician to talk about your concerns. During the appointment, the physician will conduct  an evaluation to see if dementia could be the cause and what the next steps should be.

At Compassionate Nursing Services, our specially trained and experienced home care team is available to help older loved ones in any stage of dementia to maximize quality of life. We will develop a personalized plan of care to outline the ways we can help a loved one best manage the difficulties being faced, and then review and update the plan on a regular basis as needs change. Contact us at 314-432-4312 for more information about how our home care services can provide the right amount of support.