You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you have started to notice some changes in Mom’s behaviors recently. She’s a bit more forgetful than before. She keeps losing her car keys. Often, she repeats herself. Could it be Alzheimer’s disease?
Currently, more than 6.5 million people age 65 and older are struggling with dementia, so it’s crucial to be aware of the possible Alzheimer’s behaviors to watch for and to know what to do if we observe them in someone we love. Medical professionals are finding that one helpful means of evaluating an older adult for Alzheimer’s is assessing eight key elements of functionality. If you’re having concerns about someone you love, a good starting place is to ask yourself the following:
- Is the person less interested in once-enjoyed activities? Mom may have always loved working in the garden but has given up pursuing this activity, or is simply spending more days acting restless and bored instead of involved with rewarding interests.
- Is she saying the same things over and over again? These may 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’s making about her expenses, for instance. Is she giving away 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’s nobody to share them with.
- Does she grow confused in regards to the current time and place? Forgetting that today is Thursday is fairly common, especially for someone who is retired or doesn’t have to keep to a specific schedule. But, forgetting what month or year it is needs to be noted.
- Can she learn a new challenge? Are you finding the need to explain multiple times how to work a simple new kitchen appliance? Although there is a learning curve for anything new, give thought to whether learning something new seems insurmountable.
- Is she missing obligations? This includes both arranged appointments, like a haircut or doctor’s visit, and less formal plans, such as giving you a call after lunch or meeting you for a standing weekly coffee date.
- What do her finances look like? 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 warning sign is whether or not mail is being opened and tended to right away. A stack of unopened mail is worth noting.
- Is she struggling with memory? Pay attention to any areas of general confusion in thinking as well as memory. For example, assess her short-term memory (such as asking what she had for breakfast or what she did yesterday afternoon).
While assessing each of these areas, make note of the following as well:
- When did you (or someone else close to the person) first detect these changes?
- Are these instances a difference or decline, or a brand new behavior entirely?
- Are there any signs of physical issues or limitations that could be leading to the concern and that should be dealt with?
With all of this information at hand, set up a visit with the individual’s doctor to share your concerns. During the appointment, the physician will conduct an evaluation to see if Alzheimer’s may be the cause and determine what the subsequent steps will be.
At Inspired Home Care, our specially trained and experienced dementia care team is available to help older adults in any stage of Alzheimer’s to increase wellbeing. We will create a customized care plan to outline how we can help the individual best cope with the difficulties being faced, and then review and update the plan regularly as needs change. Contact us at 847-787-7572 to find out more about how our dementia care services can help.