Many adult children live in cities and states far away from parents and thus may see them infrequently. So the holiday visit can often be an eye-opening experience if one or both parents are behaving differently. If you notice changes, how can you tell if the behaviors are part of the normal aging process, or the beginning of dementia?
The following list can help you recognize the onset of memory loss. However, these are just a few of the symptoms. You may also want to download our Home for the Holidays - Nine Warning Signs information sheet. The memory support professionals at MRC communities in Texas can also help you identify the signs and help you navigate your options.
Dementia can be difficult to diagnose in the initial stages. The changes may be subtle and can vary from person to person. However, common symptoms include:
Personality or behavior changes. Are you seeing increased anger or irritability in a normally calm and pleasant parent? Does the parent seem distracted or uninterested in activities or subjects that used to engage him or her?
Difficulty remembering recent events. This is a particularly telltale sign. Can your parent remember a recent doctor visit? The last time they saw a close friend?
Reduced ability to concentrate. Does the parent's attention wander? Is he or she repeating questions to answers given moments ago?
Loss of language ability. Forgetting a word every now and then is normal, but if it happens with increased frequency, you may be looking at the onset of dementia.
Loss of ability to do everyday tasks. Are the parents suggesting a restaurant instead of cooking? This can indicate an inability to remember the steps involved in preparing a meal.
Increased confusion and disorientation. If you don't live in the city anymore it's understandable that you may not remember certain routes. But are you finding your parent has forgotten them also, even to destinations that should be familiar?
Depression or apathy. Lack of interest can indicate depression, and it can also mean the parent may have lost confidence in his or her ability to complete tasks that were once familiar.
Keep in mind that early diagnosis can be crucial for treating the disease, or uncovering other conditions that may be mimicking the symptoms of dementia.
If you positively identify some or most of the behaviors on this list, you may want to begin researching assisted living or memory support communities. The trained professionals at MRC communities in Texas can provide assessments and help you determine whether a parent requires assisted living or memory support services. We understand the journey, and we're here to help.